René de Maumigny.

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NYPL RESEARCH LIBRARIES



3 3433 07994697



Practice 'of Men ml
I vPrauer

I liiiiiJIliK . ^
ReneUe Maumigntj, SJ.



EyaMordmary Prayer




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THE PRACTICE OF
MENTAL PRAYER



BY

FATHER RENE DE MAUMIGNY

of the Society of Jesus
SECOND TREATISE

€xtranrtrtnarg ^rag^r



Translated from the Fourth Edition with the Author's
corrections and additions.



TRANSLATION REVISED BY

FATHER ELDER MULLAN, S J.



P. J. KENEDY & SONS

Printers to the Holy Apostolic See
44 BARCLAY STREET, NEW YORK



4-,



Concedimus facultatem ut liber cui titulus: "The Practice of Mental
Prayer, by Father Ren6 de Maumigny, of the Society of Jesus,
Second Treatise, Extraordinary Prayer.: Translated from the Fourth
Edition with the Author's corrections and additions, translation revised
by Father Elder Mullan, S.J." Publici juris fiat, si iis ad quos
pertinet videbitur,



Niijil ©tfltat



PJO?BWi^ffi\^5Al«^M4N, S.J

PUBLIC LIBRiTfY

741585

ASTOR, LENO.X AND
TILDEN FOUNDATIONS

R 19ie u

Censor Deputatus.



Prov. Mary I. Neo-Ebor.



Jmpriinatur



•{•JOANNES CARDINAL FARLEY.

A rchiep. Neo-Ebor.



I-mprimatur



Fr. ALBERTUS LEPIDI, O.P.,

S.P.A. Magister.



Xmjjrimalur



•^JOSEPH CEPPETELLI, Patriarch. Const.,

Vicesgerens



Copyright, 1915, by P. Kenedy & Sons



PREFACE



For some years, cases regarding extraor-
dinary prayer have often been laid before
me and I have thought Christian charity
entailed upon me the duty of giving my
humble opinion, in spite of the difficulty of
the subject. But in these lofty paths a single
answer is generally not enough, and I have
been asked to supplement these individual
counsels by a treatise on infused Contemp-
lation. I will say nothing more as to the
origin of this work, because this is enough
to indicate its spirit. It is not a theological,
but a practical treatise that I have in mind,
and I have avoided, as- far ' a?r' possible any-
thing whichmight give rise to controversy.

The treatise is di^M^d into five parts.

Part I speaks of-the Mature and degrees of
Contemplation, but. Only- t^o far as to give
the necessary ideas to directors for the guid-
ance of souls. I have inserted lengthy cita-

3



4 PREFACE

tions from the writings of the Saints. Doubt-
less a few Hnes from an author would some-
times have been enough to prove the point
at issue, yet I have believed it very useful to
quote several pages. These passages, indeed,
in their all-heavenly beauty if quoted in part
might have stirred hearts but little to the love
of God; but reproduced in their entirety,
they afford souls a spiritual food well calcu-
lated to sanctify them, as Holy Church says
in the prayer for St. Teresa's feast.

Part 2 shows the great trials to which souls
raised to Contemplation are sooner or later
subjected. It is upon this point that I have
been most often consulted and consequently
I have been obliged to develop it rather at
length. I hope these pages, written with
bruised hearts rather than written books
before my eyei,' ^ill^-bring;. ^ome comfort to
the afflicted soul's, who rc^ad tJ^e.rii.

The subject of .^ar^^'.^'i^-the virtues neces-
sary to conternplatLye.JsQVils.- This part is of
supreme importaTit^eV^iic^p;' th^ greater number
of souls who are raised to Contemplation and
who make only indifferent progress in it,
must attribute it to the absence of solid vir-
tues.



PREFACE 5

Part 4 treats of supernatural visions and
speech. Here illusion is easy and I have been
obliged to dwell at length upon the discern-
ment of spirits.

Lastly, the subject of Part 5 is the vocation
to infused Contemplation. The importance
of this question is obvious : in order to reach
the goal, it is not enough to run, but the run-
ning must be along the path leading to the
goal.

The sources from which I have drawn are
Holy Writ, the lives and writings of the Saints,
and the experience gained from the numerous
cases laid before me. I have avoided citing
particular instances of the wonderful oper-
ation of the Holy Ghost in souls, for on this
point discretion is of the highest importance.

May this humble work, composed for the
spiritual good of the generous souls who have
begged me for it, teach them how, having
received much from God, the}^ may render
Him much in return.

I dedicate these pages to the Sacred Heart
of Jesus, the blessed Source of all grace, and
I humbly beg Him so to vivify them that they
may produce abundant fruits of sanctity.



CONTENTS



PAGE

Preface 3

PART I

Nature and Degrees of Extraordinary Prayer

CHAPTE-R

I. There are two Kinds of Mental Prayer: Ordi-
nary and Extraordinary 13

II. Supernatural Recollection 18

ni. Difference between Supernatural Recollection

and Affective Prayer 23

IV. First Characteristic of Contemplation: Faith is
Rendered Perfect in it by the Gift of Wisdom,
which the Holy Ghost Showers upon the Soul . 26
V. Second Characteristic of Contemplation: It is

the Soul's Simple and Loving Gaze upon God . 3 1
VI. Third Characteristic of Contemplation: The
Soul there Learns to Know God by Experi-
ence, by means of the Five Spiritual Senses
Rendered Wonderfully Perfect by the Gift of

Wisdom 35

VII. Fourth Characteristic of Contemplation: The
Soul Feels no Fatigue, but in Profound Peace
Drinks Deep of the Living Waters of Wisdom

and Love 42

VIII. Fifth Characteristic of Contemplation: The
Powers of the Soul are Suspended by Admira-
tion and Love 46

7



8 CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE

IX. Sixth Characteristic of Contemplation: It Is

the Beginning of Everlasting Beatitude 50

X. Definition of Contemplation 55

XL Difference between Infused Contemplation and
the Active Contemplation of St. Ignatius's

Exercises 58

XII. How there are Two kinds of Contemplation, One

Perfect, and the Other Imperfect 62

XIII. First Degree of Imperfect Contemplation:

Prayer of Quiet 68

XIV. The Other Degree of Imperfect Contemplation:

Spiritual Intoxication 73

XV. First Degree of Perfect Contemplation: Simple

Union 76

XVI. Second Degree of Perfect Contemplation: Ec-
static Union or Spiritual Betrothal 82

XVII. Consummated Union or Spiritual Marriage. ... 94

XVIII. The Wounds Caused by Love loi

XIX. God's Works may be the Object of Infused Con-
templation 107

PART II

The Various Trials through which Souls Called to Contem-
plation Must Pass

I. Penetrating Sight of One's Sins. FeeUng of having

been Abandoned by God 117

II. Second Trial: Spiritual Aridity 127

III. Third Trial: Temptations of the Devil 131

IV. Fourth Trial: Doubt as to the Truth of the Super-
natural Graces Received 136

V. Fifth Trial: A Mysterious Suffering in which Joy
and Pain are both United and where the Soul is
Purified as in a Purgatory 139



CONTENTS 9

CHAPTER PAGE

VI. A Few Words on the " Soul's Dark Night " by St.

John of the Cross 148



PART III

The Virtues and Devotions at which a Soul Must Labor
if It Wishes to Make Serious Progress in Contem-
plation

I. In General, the Soul which is called to Contemplation
must Give Itself to the Study and Practice of

Solid Virtues 157

11. The Soul Called to Contemplation must Keep Itself

entirely Free from Attachment to Creatures 167

III. The Soul Called to Contemplation and which

Wishes to make Real Progress in it, must Strive
after Intimate Union with Jesus Christ Crucified . 172

IV. The Soul Called to Contemplation and which Wishes

to Make Real Progress in it, must have a Special
Devotion to the Holy Eucharist 181

V. The End which God has in view in Raising a Soul to

Perfect Contemplation is not only to Lead it to
to the Divine Union, but further to Give it
Coiirage to Work and Suffer much for His Glory 187

PART IV

Supernatural Visions and Speech

I. Supernatural Visions and Speech: Their Nature

and Different Classes 197

II. The Precautions to be taken before Placing Faith in

Supernatural Visions and Speech 200



10 CONTENTS



III. Five Ways in which God Speaks Supernaturally to

Souls, and how they should Receive these Ex-
traordinary Favors 217

IV. St. Ignatius' Rule for Avoiding Illusions in the

Use of Supernatural Speech 226

PART V

Vocation to Extraordinary Graces

I. Contemplation is not the only Means of Attaining

Christian Perfection 235

II. Contemplation Requires a Special Vocation, which
the greater number of Souls who make Mental
Prayer do not Possess 242

III. By what Signs may it be Recognized that a Soul is

Called to Contemplation? 252

IV. How the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius are a

Preparation for Infused Contemplation 256

V. To what Extent may Extraordinary Graces be

Desired? 261

VI. To what Extent is the Reading of Books treating
of Extraordinary States to be Allowed to Pious

Souls? 270

VII. What is to be the Conduct of a Soul Raised to Con-
templation when making a Private Retreat?. . 274
VIII. What Share should Religious Raised to Con-
templation take in General Retreats? 281



PART I
Mature aitii ©eareest ot Cxtraorlimarp draper



CHAPTER I

THERE ARE TWO KINDS OF MENTAL PRAYER:
ORDINARY AND EXTRAORDINARY

There are two kinds of mental prayer:
one, the more usual and within the power of
all devout souls; the other, the lot of a few
privileged souls and to be attributed less to
themselves than to the Holy Ghost.

The more common form admits of methods ;
not so the other, though those whom God has
called to it need careful direction, calculated
to dispel the obstacles to grace. The first
demands much work and is more or less of the
nature of the labors of this world ; the second
is made without effort and is a foretaste of
the rest to be enjoyed in Heaven.

These two kinds of prayer have received
different names, which must be known if the
works of the Saints and other spiritual writers
are to be understood.

I . The first kind of prayer is called ordinary
because it is made by the help of that grace
which God refuses to none ; the second, extraor-
dinary, because it is made by means of a

13



14 PRACTICE OF MENTAL PRAYER

special grace which God grants but to few.
Just as an unfledged bird cannot rise up into
the air, however much it tries, so it is impos-
sible for the soul which has not received the
gift of extraordinary prayer from the Holy
Ghost to attain it by its own efforts and the
help of common grace.

2. The first kind of prayer is called natural,
and indeed, although grace raises nature to
this stage, nature still preserves her character-
istic way of acting. The intellect thus reflects
on a spiritual in the same way as on a scien-
tific, truth, and love of God is testified in the
same way as affection towards a father or
a friend.

The second kind of prayer is called super-
natural because grace so elevates nature that
the soul knows and loves in a way superior to
the ordinary way of knowing and loving — so
the Saints, taught by personal experience,
affirm unanimously.

3. The first kind of prayer is called active
because effort is made to gain light for the
intellect and fervor for the will by means of
distinct acts, demanding more or less work.
As opposed to this, the second kind of prayer
is called passive or infused, since instead of



NATURE OF PRAYER 15

light and love being sought in distinct acts,
they are received directly from God, not how-
ever to the exclusion of the soul's cooperation.
In this sense St. Dionysius says of his master
Hierotheus that ' ' he suffered divine things. "^

4. Ordinary prayer is called Meditation
because the truth is then sought by means
of reasoning and reflection. Extraordinary
prayer is called Contemplation because then
there is no process of reasoning, but the truth
is known by intuition. It is most imperative
that this passive or extraordinary contempla-
tion should be distinguished from the active
or ordinary contemplation which has beeri
spoken of in the first treatise. ^ In future when
the word Contemplation is used, unless other-
wise stated, passive or extraordinary con-
templation is to be always understood, in
accordance with the phraseology used by all
the Saints and spiritual writers when treating
of that kind of prayer which occupies our
attention here.

In conclusion, in extraordinary prayer God
sheds upon the soul such a simple knowledge
and pure love as it would be impossible to

^ De divinis nominibus, c. 2.
* Ordinary Prayer, Part 5, ch. r.



16 PRACTICE OF MENTAL PRAYER

gain by means of ordinary grace. The Holy
Ghost effects this wonder through the gift
of wisdom, which, according to St. Bonaven-
ture, is " Hke a sun shining with knowledge
and burning with charity." ^

Extraordinary prayer is composed of three
main divisions :

1. Supernatural Recollection, where the
knowledge and love are not sufficiently intense
to suspend the powers of the soul, whose action
remains free.

2. Contemplation, where the superabun-
dance of knowledge and ove ravishes, at least
partially, the intellect and will.

3. Consummate union, where these powers
regain full liberty of action. This change
results not from the knowledge and love being
any less great than in Contemplation ; on
the contrary, they are much more intense, but
the Holy Ghost so strengthens the soul that
incomparable floods of light and love could
not absorb it n the slightest.

The reader must not be astonished if the
same word " Contemplation " be used with
two different meanings: first, as a synonym
for extraordinary prayer, and later on, to

* Dc Dono Sapientiae, C. 4, Vol. 7, p. 639.



NATURE OF PRAYER 17

denote one of the three main divisions of this
same kind of prayer. This is constantly done
by the Saints and masters of the spiritual life
in their writings, the context showing how the
word '' Contemplation " is to be interpreted.
Such anomalies, besides, are not uncommon
in spiritual books. For instance the word
" prayer " is taken sometimes to mean mental
prayer in general; at others, in a more partic-
ular sense, the petition for graces helpful for
salvation,



18 PRACTICE OF MENTAL PRAYER
CHAPTER II

SUPERNATURAL RECOLLECTION

Supernatural Recollection forms part
of extraordinary prayer, for we cannot attain
it, even in an elementary degree, by means of
ordinary grace alone; the assistance of the
Holy Ghost is required, shedding upon the
soul the life-giving waters of wisdom, the
highest of His gifts. Then the soul begins to
receive direct from God the light and love
which were previously obtained by distinct
acts of the intellect and will, the passive replac-
ing the active. Then, again, the soul enters
on a new knowledge and love of God, found in
a wonderfully simple and loving attention to
God, which causes the soul to feel consumed
by love. Then, finally, the soul is filled with
peace, a foretaste of eternal rest.

The soul's happiness does not, however, go
so far as rapture, even partial, the total or
partial suspension of the powers being reserved
for Contemplation, where wisdom is showered
upon the soul much more abundantly. Since



NATURE OF PRAYER 19

the intellect, will and memory remain free,
to restrain their activity would be tempt-
ing God and exposing oneself to many a dis-
traction.

. Saint Teresa says: '' When God raises the
soul to this prayer, then, according to the
advice of certain writers, it may doubtless
rest content in listening to God's voice and,
without entering into any reasoning with the
understanding, remain attentive to God and
regard Him working within it. But unless
Our Lord has caused the soul to pass from
recollection to Contemplation, I cannot under-
stand how the reasoning of the understanding
can be stopped without more harm than
good resulting. Yet this question has been
much discussed by persons concerned with
the spiritual life, some of whom hold the
contrary opinion. . . . One of these referred
me to a treatise of Blessed Fr. Peter of Alcan-
tara. As I hold him a saint and know what
light he had on this subject, I would willingly
have submitted to his authority. But having
read the book, we found that this holy man said
exactly the same thing as I. His explanation,
it is true, is expressed in different words, but it
is clear, for he expressly says so, that the soul



20 PRACTICE OF MENTAL PRAYER

should only check the reasoning of the under-
standing when God has raised it to a higher
kind of prayer and keeps it united to Himself
by love. . . . Let us be careful not to remain
foolishly inactive, for all that is left to the soul
which suppresses the acts of the intellect is the
shame for its foolish attempt and much greater
dryness; its imagination only becomes more
unruly in its violent effort to think of nothing.
. . . There is nothing more pleasing to God
than to see us busied with the thought of His
honor and glory, forgetful of our advantage
and pleasure. Now, how can this forgetful-
ness of self exist in one who is paying so much
attention to himself that he dares not stir?
And how can he rejoice at God's glory and
wish for its increase when he is only thinking
of checking the activity of his understanding?
. . . Since God has given us the powers of
the soul to use and since the effort made by
each has its reward, instead of holding them
prisoners by a kind of enchantment, let us
allow them to freely fulfil their usual function
until God sees fit to confer a higher one upon
them."i

But the contrary excess must be avoided,

^ Chdteau interieur, 4^ demcure, ch. 3, t. 3, pp. 368-371.



NATURE OF PRAYER 21

namely such zealous activity that the peace
and sweetness due to God's loving gaze are
stifled. This would be depriving the soul of
a spiritual food which strengthens it in a
wonderful way.

To conclude, the principle which is to govern
all in this kind of prayer is, that above all,
the repose which the soul enjoys in the general
and loving knowledge of God must not be
disturbed in any way; yet, on the other hand,
the powers should not be kept inactive, since
they remain free to act. So then, if the soul
finds more spiritual pleasure in making only
acts of the affections, let the reflections be
omitted, and if it finds more fruit in God's
loving look alone, let it omit not only the reflec-
tions, but even the distinct affections.

The soul then feels consumed with love,
in the midst of an undefined view of its Cre-
ator. Let it not lament the loss of the spirit-
ual fruit previously gained by distinct con-
siderations and affections, for all that is
written in books, however sublime, of the
Divine attributes pales before what the soul
understands and experiences in God Himself.
As to the will, it loves the one and only good,
including in itself all other good, and yet this



22 PRACTICE OF MENTAL PRAYER

one act of general love includes much more
than all the other distinct acts of the affections
which it could make. Supernatural Recollec-
tion is the vestibule of Contemplation.



NATURE OF PRAYER 23



CHAPTER III

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SUPERNATURAL REC-
OLLECTION AND AFFECTIVE PRAYER

It seems at first as though there would be
no difference between Supernatural Recollec-
tion and Affective Prayer, and indeed there
are three characteristics common to both: a
pure, sweet love of God, the numerous affec-
tions which accompany such love, and the
absence of fatigue.

And yet these two kinds of prayer are essen-
tially distinct, especially in the four following
points :

1. In Supernatural Recollection, the pure
sweet love of God is poured upon the soul by
the Holy Ghost. It belongs, then, to the
passive order. In Affective Prayer, this love
is acquired by more or less numerous acts
made by the intellect and the will, aided by
the Holy Ghost. It belongs thus to the actiie
order,

2. The special grace of Affective Prayer
does not go so far as to enable the soul to make
essentially new acts, but allows it to make



24 PRACTICE OF MENTAL PRAYER

with ease and wonderful sweetness, acts of
the affections already made. The grace of
Supernatural Recollection is entirely different,
for it raises the soul to essentially new
forms of activity, which St. Bernard calls
angelic rather than human.

3. In Supernatural Recollection there is no
essential beyond an indistinct yet loving view
of God, in which the soul feels consumed with
love: the distinct reflections and affections
which sometimes occur are supplementary.
A comparison will make this clearer: When
the day is drawing to a close, we are obliged to
light the lamps, but the powerful hght of the
sun, reflected in the vast expanse of the
heavens, still surpasses these artificial hghts.
In the same way, in Supernatural Recollec-
tion there is sometimes need to have recourse
to repeated reflections and affections in order to
banish distractions, but these are only supple-
mentary and accessory acts, above which lies
the pure sky of a general and loving attention
to God. Manifold acts of the affections, on
the other hand, are the very essence of Affect-
ive Prayer.

4. In Supernatural Recollection the soul
enjoys so profound a peace and so sweet a joy



NATURE OF PRAYER 25

that it feels it has found true happiness.
There is nothing of this in Affective Prayer.
Here the soul enjoys an exceptional happiness
and rest, it is true, but at the same time it
feels that in this method there will always be
something to be desired.

The part played by Supernatural Recollec-
tion in extraordinary prayer is considerable.
In the first place, it is the first sure sign by
which it may be recognized that a soul is
called to contemplation and should in future
hold a more elevated converse with God. It
is, too, the method of prayer usual among
contemplative souls: they cannot long main-
tain the heights of contemplation and are
forced to return to a more modest kind of
prayer.



26 PRACTICE OF MENTAL PRAYER



CHAPTER IV

FIRST CHARACTERISTIC OF CONTEMPLATION*.
FAITH IS RENDERED PERFECT IN IT BY THE
GIFT OF WISDOM, WHICH THE HOLY GHOST
SHOWERS UPON THE SOUL

" We see now through a glass in a dark
manner, but then face to face," ^ says the
Apostle. In Contemplation the mirror, that
is, the spiritual image by means of which we
know God here below, does not disappear and
give place to the sight of Him face to face, but
His image becomes much more perfect. The
enigma, that is, the obscurity of faith, does not
cease to exist, but the light becomes more
intense. Since the image and obscurity
remain, this knowledge too remains a knowl-
edge of faith; but since the image is more
perfect and the light more intense, it is a
more elevated kind of faith.

This elevation of faith is due to the gift of
wisdom, the highest of the gifts of the Holy
Ghost. However, the degree of wisdom com-
mon to all souls in a state of grace, is not

* I Cor. 13: 12.



NATURE OF PRAYER 27

sufficient to perfect faith in this wonderful
way. A more eminent degree is required,
which God grants to certain privileged souls,
called contemplatives.

Let us listen to what St. Thomas says:
" The contemplation which renders faith use-
less is that of glory. Thanks to this con-
templation, supernatural truth is seen in its
essence. Neither the Angels before their con-
firmation in grace, nor man before he had
committed sin had this power of contempla-
tion; and yet their contemplation was more
elevated in nature than ours. By its means
they approached nearer to God and were able
to understand more clearly than we, God's
doings and the mysteries connected with Him.
Their faith, then, was not like that by means
of which we seek for God, for He was more
nearly present to them than to us by virtue
of the light of wisdom." ^

This faith, which belongs to the state of
innocence, did not disappear entirely after the
Fall, but became the heritage of those souls
who are called by a special favor to Con-
templation.

It is by means of this faith, thus wpnder-

»2*2^, q. 5, a. I, ad i.



28 PRACTICE OF MENTAL PRAYER

fully illuminated by the gift of wisdom, that
uneducated men, such as St. Paschal Baylon,^
have been able to answer the most difficult
theological questions and even to write admir-
ably on theology. It was this faith that, in
the case of St. Ignatius, shed such vivid light
on the divine mysteries that he felt ready to
lay down his life in their defense.^

St. John of the Cross has devoted the
twelfth stanza of his Spiritual Canticles to a
description of the excellence of this kind of
faith, which is, as it were, a thin veil through
which the greatness and infinite beauty of the
Creator may be seen: " Faith," he says, '* is


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