20140120 Listen to the Word of God 聆聽天主聖言

St. Francis wrote, “Our Lord receives our words of prayer according to the way in which we receive His words in teaching.” “Listening” is an important element in the spiritual life, and spiritual readings provide us the opportunity of listening to the Word of God.

What to read?

Among spiritual readings, Holy Scripture, especially the New Testament, holds the first place. St. Jerome said, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” Reading Scripture helps us to encounter Jesus Christ and to learn about His life and teachings.     Lives of the saints are very helpful to our spiritual life, as are writings of the saints such as: the Rule of St. Benedict, the Letters of St. Ignatius of Antioch, City of God and Confessions of St. Augustine, the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis, and Virtue and Christian Refinement by St. John Bosco.     The spiritual classics also include: The Conferences of St. John Cassian; Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena, The Ladder by St. John Climacus; the Ascent of Mount Carmel, Dark Night of the Soul, and Living Flame of Love by St. John of the Cross; and Twelve Steps to Holiness and Salvation, The Passion and the Death of Jesus Christ, and The Glories of Mary by St. Alphonsus Ligouri.     There are also: Way of Perfection and Autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila, Spiritual Conferences of St. Vincent de Paul, An Introduction to the Devout Life and Treatise on the Love of God by St. Francis de Sales, True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort, Sermons of the Cure of Ars (St. John Vianney), Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux, Journal of a Soul by Blessed John XXIII, Divine Mercy in My Soul by St. Faustina Kowalska, and The Way by St. Josemaria Escriva.     It is a good practice to spend 15 minutes each day in spiritual reading. In the first half of the 15 minutes read a page from Holy Scriptures. I warmly recommend the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible. In the second half of the 15 minutes read from a spiritual book.

Inspirations

St. Francis de Sales defined “inspirations” as “all drawings, feelings, interior reproaches, lights, and intuitions with which God moves us by His fatherly love and care; awakening, exciting, urging, and attracting us to goodness, to heavenly love, to good resolutions; in short, to whatever tends to our eternal welfare.”     The saint explained, “In contracting a marriage, the bride must be a party to three separate acts: first, the bridegroom is proposed to her; second, she entertains the proposal; and third, she gives her consent.     “Just so, when God intends to perform some act of love in us, by us, and with us, He first suggests it by His inspiration; second, we receive that inspiration; and third, we consent to it: for, as we fall into sin by three steps: temptation, delectation, and consent, so there are three steps whereby we ascend to virtue: inspiration, as opposed to temptation; delectation in God’s inspiration, as opposed to that of temptation; and consent to the one instead of to the other.”     During the course of our day, God might give us holy inspirations during spiritual reading, prayer, or work. It is important for us to consent to those inspirations and strive to put them into practice.     However, St. Francis de Sales also cautioned that, “before consenting to inspirations which have respect to important or extraordinary things, guard against self-deception, by consulting your spiritual guide, and let him examine whether the inspiration be real or no.”     “Stop to consider, ponder, and relish the truths that make greater appeal to you, in order to fix them in your mind, therefrom to elicit acts and affections,” said St. John Eudes.

聖方濟.沙雷寫道:「我們的主會按我們如何聆聽祂的話,來接受我們的禱告。」「聆聽」是靈修的要素,閱讀聖書是聆聽天主說話的最佳途徑。

 

閱讀些什麼?

 

芸芸聖書中,首推當然是「聖經」—— 特別是「新約」。聖師業樂認為「對聖經無知就是對基督無知。」閱讀「聖經」就是與基督相遇,學習有關祂的生平和訓導。

 

閱讀聖人傳記和聖人的著作有助我們的靈修;知名的有:「聖本篤會規」、聖依納爵.安底約的牧函、聖奧斯定的「天主城」和「懺悔錄」、聖依納爵.羅耀拉的「神操」、多默.耿稗思的「師主篇」、聖若望.鮑思高的「聖德精煉」、聖若望.加西央的「隱修生活規律」、聖嘉琳的「嘉琳對話」、聖若望.克利馬古的「天國梯階」、聖十字.若望的「上加爾默羅山」、「靈魂的黑夜」及「愛的活火」。

 

此外還有,如聖女大德蘭的「純全的道路」和她的自傳、聖文生的「遣使會會規」、聖方濟各.撒肋爵的「虔敬生活論」和「論天主之愛」、聖雅風的「成聖與得救的十二步」、「耶穌基督的苦難聖死」及「瑪利亞的光榮」、聖類斯.蒙福的「孝愛真諦」、聖若翰.維雅奈的講道、聖女小德蘭的「靈心」、真福教宗若望二十三世的「靈修日記」、聖傅天娜的「神聖慈悲在我靈」,與及聖施禮華的「道」。

 

每天抽十五分鐘閱讀靈修書籍是良好的習慣:首先細讀一頁聖經,後來從一本靈修書籍閱讀。

 

默感

 

聖方濟.沙雷聲明,『默感』是指「內心的吸引、感動、譴責和悔悟,又指天主因其無限慈愛,藉其所賜的景福,在我們心中所啟發的智慧之光,衪藉着這種光,提示我們,走向聖德的坦途,激發我們,邁入愛德的大海,鼓勵我們,實踐所立的善志,總而言之,它要領導我們止於至善。」

 

聖人解釋:相若於完整的婚約,新娘必要完合三個步驟 —— 首先,新郎求婚,其次是新娘答允慎重考慮,最後是新娘完全予以同意。天主首先在我們之內種下善行的意願,然後我們答允慎重考慮,最後我們完全予以同意。不過,犯罪三步曲似乎與此相似:誘惑、喜愛、同意。

 

天主每天在我們閱讀聖書或祈禱時,又或在工作時,祂都給我們默感,我們必要認同這些默感,並以實際行動呼應。不過,聖人還是提醒我們:「遇有影響重要或深遠的默感時,在認同前,要小心醒覺,別只是一時的謬覺,變了自我蒙騙,最好還是請教神師,讓神師界定是否來自天主的默感。」

 

聖若望.歐德說:「靜止下來沉思一下,反覆思量那最能感染你的真理,把這些真理銘刻於心,好能發出熱情和愛慕。」

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