20131216 Devout soul meditates 熱心作默想

In the first part of An Introduction to the Devout Life, St. Francis de Sales points out that devotion and charity are inseparable. Devotion requires purification from mortal sin, affection for sin, and imperfections.
In the second part of the book, St. Francis describes the practice of prayer in the devout life. Prayer opens our mind and will to God. It helps to purify the soul.
St. Francis especially recommends mental prayer drawn from the contemplation of the life and Passion of Christ. We should begin all prayer, whether mental or vocal, by placing ourselves in the presence of God.

Preparation
St. Francis suggests four methods for placing ourselves in the presence of God: first, realizing in a lively, earnest way that God’s presence is universal; second, calling to mind that God is very specially present in our heart and mind; third, dwelling upon the thought of Christ looking down upon all people from heaven; fourth, picturing Jesus at our side.
However, when the Blessed Sacrament is there, then this Presence is no longer imaginary, but most real.
Having placed ourselves in the presence of God, we should invoke His divine assistance to make a proper meditation. We can also invoke our guardian angel and those saints most especially connected with the subject of meditation.

Meditation
Depending on the subject of meditation, the practice of “composition of place” may be used to set forth the mystery.
Composition of place is “simply kindling a vivid picture of the mystery to be meditated within your imagination, even as though you were actually beholding it. For instance, if you wish to meditate upon Our Lord on His cross, you will place yourself in imagination on Mount Calvary, as though you saw and heard all that occurred there during the Passion.”
According to St. Francis de Sales, meditations are “certain considerations by which we raise the affections to God and heavenly things.”
“Meditation differs therein from study and ordinary methods of thought which have not the Love of God or growth in holiness for their object, but some other end, such as the acquisition of learning or power of argument.”
Meditative considerations should lead to affections and resolutions. St. Francis writes, “You must not stop short in general affections, without turning them into special resolutions for your own correction and amendment.”
Resolutions should be practical and concrete. We should strive to retain them on our return to active duties.

Conclusion
We should make three acts at the conclusion of meditation: first, an act thanksgiving for the graces received during meditation; second, an act of oblation to offer our affections and resolutions; third, an act of intercession for the fulfilment of our resolutions and for the needs of others.
We should select a few points from meditation to dwell on them from time to time during the day. If we experience dryness during meditation we may use vocal prayer or a spiritual book to help us meditate.
A nun went to St. Teresa of Avila in great discouragement because she thought she could not practise mental prayer. The saint asked the nun how she tried to pray. She told St. Teresa that she merely said over and over again the “Our Father” and “Hail Mary,” thinking of Our Lord in some scene of His Passion.
On further questioning, St. Teresa found that in her vocal prayers the nun enjoyed pure contemplation, and occasionally God lifted her to perfect union with Himself. If prayed well, the rosary can become pure contemplative prayer.
Meditative reading is one of the methods of mental prayer. St. Benedict set apart two hours each day for reading Sacred Scripture and the writings of the Fathers. We listen to God in holy reading.

方濟.沙雷的「導入虔敬的生活」神修巨箸,其第一部份指出,熱心與愛德不可分割。熱心要求淨化: 棄絕罪惡、擯除對大小罪的情趣、清除靈魂的不完善。

 

            在第二部份,聖方濟敘述熱心的靈魂應如何祈禱。祈禱幫助我們淨潔靈魂,開放我們的心靈和理志給天主。聖人特別推薦心禱;這種心禱應源於默觀基督內在生命和祂的苦難。我們無論作口禱或默禱,都應先把自己置於天主的臨在。

 

 

準備

如何把自己置身於天主的臨在呢?聖方濟.沙雷有四點建議:一,緊記天主其實是無所不在;二,想到天主特別臨在於我們的心靈內;三,想到基督從天上看顧著我們每一個人;四,想像耶穌就在我們的身旁。不過,當我們在聖體前祈禱,這個想像倒不必了,因為耶穌確實臨在。

 

既已在天主面前,我們要懇求祂的助佑,讓我們有妥善的默想;我們也可以向護守天使或與默想主題有關的聖人們求助。

 

 

默想

 

按一些默想的主題,可設法搆思有關地點的景象;譬如,要默想十字架上的基督,我們便要想像自己正在加爾瓦略山上,目睹我主的苦難。

 

聖方濟.沙雷解釋:「所謂默想,就是為了激起我們對天主或與祂有關的事情,發生嚮往的情趣,而引起來的深思熟慮。」「這種深思熟慮,與學術研究,而或另有目的的思考,是大異其趣的:默想是為了修德愛主,其他思考,或是為了博學,或是為了寫作,或是為了論戰。」

 

默想不止於情感,而應能付諸實踐。聖方濟寫道:「你不能就此停滯於感情之中,你該更進一步,很具體地立個志向,要改正自己的某某缺點,這才算是畫龍點睛的工作。」定的志向應該是實在和具體的。我們要將志向帶到日常生活中付諸實行。

 

 

結束

 

默想結束時我們應該做三件事:一、為了從默想中所得到的聖寵,表示感恩;二、把情感和志向奉獻給主;三、為實踐志向和別人的需要而祈求。我們應從默想中選出幾項要點在日間多次重温。

 

一旦感到默想乏味,可用口禱或閱讀聖書來幫助自己。有一位修女以為自己不能作心禱,氣餒地向聖女大德蘭求教。聖女問她怎樣默禱,她答說常重複默唸天主經和聖母經,並想着耶穌受難的景象。聖女更進一步詢問修女,發現該修女在口禱時其實已嘗到純正的默觀;有時候,天主更提升該修女達到與天主完美的結合。其實,善唸玫瑰經能讓我們達到純正的默觀。

 

神修閱讀也是心禱的一種方法。聖本篤每天都撥出兩小時閱讀聖經或教父們的箸作,就是藉閱讀來聆聽天主說話。

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