CHAPTER IX

 

OF THE CLOSE UNION WITH GOD TO WHICH SHE

ATTAINED BY MEANS OF MENTAL PRAYER

 

 

THE Holy Spirit having chosen the blessed Rose as His Temple, because Himself her Master, and taught her how to pray from her earliest infancy.  The supernatural light with which He enriched her understanding, inflamed her heart with so ardent a love for this holy exercise, that even sleep itself, which, by the necessity of nature she was compelled to take, could not distract her from it; for her imagination was so completely absorbed in it, that she was often heard to repeat while asleep, the same number of vocal prayers as she had said during the day. Her piety increasing with her years, she applied herself wholly to God from her twelfth year by the prayer of union, by means of which “the soul becomes one spirit with Him,” according to the words of S. Paul.  She had two different methods of conversing with God; one in solitude, when, having disengaged her mind from the care of earthly things, she retired to her hermitage, or to some other place apart from creatures, to attend solely and uninterruptedly to God; the other in any place or in any employment that occupied her; for she kept her mind so united to God, and recollected in Him, that she prayed in working or in exercising charity towards the afflicted: thus, whether she walked, worked, or whatever she did, she was always in prayer.

 

She employed every day twelve hours in the first kind of prayer, as we have already mentioned; the second was continual, unless she was interrupted by the representations of horrible phantoms, of which we shall speak in the next chapter; so that she prayed without interruption, according to the advice of the great Apostle, for whether she slept or watched, whether she conversed, ate, read spiritual books, went abroad, or remained in her cell, God was incessantly in her thoughts, and she entertained herself with Him in loving colloquies.  It is beyond the power of our imagination to conceive how, though the presence of God entirely engrossed all the interior powers of her soul, she still acted in exterior things with great presence of mind, giving the proper answers to questions, and finishing the work she commenced.  Even if she were engaged in household employments, the cares which would have very much embarrassed another, did not divert her from the presence of her Spouse, nor from the continual conversation she kept up with Him in her heart, in which He communicated to her His choicest favors.

 

In the time of prayer her senses were so recollected, that they represented nothing to her imagination which could distract her from her intercourse with God; when in the church she fixed her eyes steadfastly on the altar, and never looked at anything else; she was so absorbed in attention to the Divine mysteries, that she never knew who passed before her; and it was often remarked, that on certain occasions which inspired others with fear or surprise, she did not move a muscle, remaining motionless as a rock, while others in the church were quite terrified.  After having passed hours, the whole day, and often all the night in prayer, she was often found in the position in which she had first placed herself.  Towards the end of her life she remained in prayer in her hermitage from Maunday Thursday till Easter Sunday, her mind being so united to God, and so completely disengaged from the senses, that her body lost all strength, and she could neither rise nor support herself. 

 

She meditated every day three hours on the benefits of God, and the innumerable graces she had received from his mercy.  She had for some time applied herself to a very sublime kind of prayer, which was, to meditate on a hundred and fifty perfections of God, having drawn from it many holy affections which enkindled in her heart the flames of divine love, she honored each of those attributes separately with an adoration of latria.  Her mind was agitated with many different sensations during this prayer, as it formed affections conformable to the effects which we attribute to the sovereign perfections of God; fear, hope, grief, confusion, joy, desires, and compassion, had a share in her sentiments, when she contemplated His justice, His mercy, his omnipotence, His wisdom, and the other attributes which occupied her thoughts; and she felt two different sorts of agitations, similar to the two contrary pulsations which physicians recognize in our hearts, which succeed one another, now the consideration of the avenging justice of God plunged her into the depths; soon after a reflection on his mercy elevated her to heaven.  This method of prayer was not only very agreeable to God, but our Saint testified that it was also terrible to the devils.  Her love of God, which continually increased by the consideration of His Divine attributes, made her words like burning coals, which lighted up the same fire in the hearts of those with whom she conversed; for she was careful to make use of everything to lead them to love virtue and hate vice.  If she walked with them in a garden, she spoke to them of the sovereign beauty of God, which spreads itself over flowers as a mirror, in which men may see the faint representation of that Source of beauty from which they derive their color and brightness.  She made use of this means with no less advantage to raise her heart to God, adoring Him in all sublunary things, which she considered as animated pictures, representing to her His excellences and perfections.  It usually happened that everything she saw or heard elevated her mind above her senses, even so as to threw her into a rapture.  One day when she was ill, and something was being prepared for her to eat, a little bird came and perched near the window of her room, and began to sing; whereupon our Saint applied herself so earnestly to the consideration of the goodness of God, who had given this bird so sweet a note to sing His praises, that she was ravished into an ecstasy, in which she continued transported with love from nine in the morning till evening.

 

The year of her death, another bird, whose melody was most charming, placed itself opposite her room during the whole of Lent: as soon as the sun began to go down, the blessed Rose ordered him to employ his notes in praising God; he obeyed, and raising his voice, sang with all his strength, till this spouse of Christ, unwilling to be outdone by a bird in offering to God canticles of praise and benediction, which was more her duty than his, began to sing hymns to His glory, which she did very sweetly; when she had finished, this little chorister began again, and thus together they composed a choir in which they sang, alternately, for an hour, the praises of God.  At six o’clock she dismissed him till the next day, and he was so punctual that he never failed to appear at the time fixed.

 

The abundant graces which she received from God in mental prayer, made her exhort every one to embrace the practice of it.  She spent several hours every day in reading books which taught the method of meditation, and in particular the works or Father Lewis of Granada.  She had wonderful eloquence in persuading others to do it; she begged confessor to exhort their penitents and preachers to speak of the excellence of meditation, and of its necessity for all who wish to lead a life corresponding with their dignity as Christians, and with the obligation of saving heir souls.  The Rosary of the Blessed Virgin, comprising these two sorts of prayer, mental and vocal, in the words and mysteries which compose it, she wished all who mounted the pulpit to instruct the people, and exhort them to embrace this devotion, and to say at least part of it every day.  Her zeal and example induced may persons to practice it.


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Text from the Fr. Faber translation, Peter F. Cunningham, fourth edition, 1855

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