THE SPIRITUAL LIFE: A TREATISE ON ASCETICAL AND MYSTICAL THEOLOGY by Adolphe Tanquerey, tr. H. Branderis, Desclee, (New York, 1930). BOOK I : The Purification of the Soul or the Purgative Way, Ch. I, The Prayer of Beginners,
688 . Since mental prayer is a difficult art, the Saints have ever been eager to offer counsel on the means of succeeding therein. One finds excellent advice in Cassian, St. John Climacus and other spiritual writers. It was not, however, until the XV Century that methods properly so called were elaborated, which have since guided souls in the ways of mental prayer.
Because at first sight these methods appear rather intricate, it is well, before introducing beginners to their use, to prepare them by what may be called meditative reading. They should be told to read some devout works, like the First Book of the “Following of Christ,” the “Spiritual Combat” or some work containing brief, solid meditations; and they should be taught to follow up this reading by asking themselves the following questions: (1) Am I thoroughly convinced that what I have just read is useful and necessary to the welfare of my soul? How can I strengthen this conviction? (2) Have I up to the present exercised myself in such an important practice? (3) What must I do today in order to improve? If an earnest prayer is added asking for the grace that one may carry out the resolutions taken, all the essential elements of a real meditation will be contained in such reading.
I. POINTS COMMON to ALL METHODS of MENTAL PRAYER
We find in all the various methods certain common traits which are manifestly the most essential; hence, attention must be called to them.
689. (1) There is always a remote, a proximate, and an immediate PREPARATION.
a) The remote preparation is nothing more than the effort to make our daily life harmonize with prayer. It comprises three things:
1) the mortification of the senses and of the passions;
2) habitual recollection;
These are, in fact, excellent dispositions for a good meditation. At the beginning they are imperfect; still, they suffice to enable us to meditate with some profit, and later on they will become more and more perfect in proportion as progress is made in mental prayer.
b) The proximate or, as others call it, the less remote preparation, includes three principal acts:
1) to select the subject of meditation on the preceding evening;
2) to revolve it in our mind in the morning upon awakening, and to excite in our heart corresponding sentiments;
3) to approach meditation with earnestness, confidence, and humility, desiring to give glory to God and to improve our life.
In this way the soul is placed in the best dispositions to enter into conversation with God.
c) The immediate preparation, which is in reality the beginning of meditation itself, consists in placing ourselves in the presence of God Who is present everywhere especially within our heart, in acknowledging ourselves unworthy and incapable of meditating, and in imploring the aid of the Holy Ghost that He supply our insufficiency.
690. (2) Within THE BODY of the MEDITATION, the different methods likewise contain more or less explicitly the same fundamental acts:
a) Acts of worship rendering to the Majesty of God the religious homage due to Him.
b) Considerations, to convince ourselves of the necessity or the great importance of the virtue we want to acquire, so that we may all the more earnestly pray for the grace of practicing it, and firmly determine to make efforts necessary to co-operate with grace.
c) Self-examinations, to see our failings in this regard and survey the progress yet to be made.
d) Prayers or petitions, asking for the grace of growing in the said virtue and of using the means conducive thereto.
e) Resolutions, whereby we determine from that very moment to practice that virtue.
691. (3) The CONCLUSION, which brings the meditation to a close, includes:
1) an act of thanksgiving for the favors received;
2) a review of the manner in which we have made our meditation with the view to improve thereon the following day;
3) a final prayer asking the blessing of Our Heavenly Father;
4) the selection of some impressive thought or some telling maxim, which will during the day recall to our mind the ruling idea of our meditation.
The different methods are reduced to two principal types called respectively the method of St. Ignatius and the method of St. Sulpice.
II. THE METHOD of ST. IGNATIUS 
692. In the “Spiritual Exercises” St. Ignatius presents several methods of mental prayer, according to the subjects meditated upon and the results desired. The one best adapted to beginners is the one called the exercise of the three faculties, so named because it consists in the exercise of the memory, the understanding and the will, the three chief faculties of the soul. It is explained in the First Week of the Exercises in connection with the meditation on sin.
693. (1) THE BEGINNING of the MEDITATION. It begins by a preparatory prayer in which we beg of God that our intentions and all our actions be solely directed to the service and honor of the Divine Majesty.
Two preludes follow:
a) the first, which is the composition of place, has for its purpose to center the imagination and fasten the attention upon the subject of the meditation, the more easily to banish distractions.
1) If the object falls under the senses, for instance if it is one of the mysteries of Our Lord, it is presented to the mind as vividly as possible, not like an event having taken place in the distant past, but as if one were actually witnessing the facts and taking part In them.
2) If the object does not fall under the senses, e. g. sin, “the composition of place will consist in picturing and considering my soul imprisoned in this mortal body, and myself, that is, my body and my soul, in this vale of tears, exiled, as it were, midst animals devoid of reason”; in other words, one considers sin in some of its effects in order to conceive a horror for it.
b) The second prelude consists in asking God what we want and desire, for example, shame and confusion at the sight of our sins. As can be seen, the practical purpose of the meditation--the resolution --is clearly pointed out from the very outset: In all things look to the end.
694. (2) THE BODY of the MEDITATION. This consists in the application of the three faculties of the soul, the memory, the understanding, and the will, to each point of the meditation.
Each faculty is in turn applied to each point, unless one point furnishes adequate matter for the meditation. It is not necessary in every meditation to make all the acts; it is good to dwell upon the affections and sentiments which the subject suggests.
a) The exercise of the MEMORY is performed by recalling the first point of the meditation, not in detail, but as a whole; thus, says St. Ignatius: “This exercise of the memory as regards the sin of the Angels consists in calling to mind how they were created in a state of innocence; how they refused to employ their freedom in rendering their Creator and Master the homage and obedience due to Him; how pride, taking possession of them, they passed from the state of grace to a state of reprobation, and were cast from Heaven into Hell.”
b) The exercise of the UNDERSTANDING consists in reflecting in detail upon the same subject. St. Ignatius proceeds no further, but Father Roothaan supplements his teaching by explaining that the office of the understanding is to make reflections upon the truths the memory has proposed, to make application thereof to the soul and the soul’s needs, to draw therefrom practical conclusions, to weigh the motives for resolutions, to consider how we have heretofore conformed our conduct to the truths upon which we meditate, and how we must conduct ourselves with regard to them in the future.
c) The WILL has two duties to fulfill: to conceive devout affections and to form good resolutions.
1) The affections, indeed, must find a place in all parts of the meditation, at least they must occur very frequently, since it is these that make the meditation a real prayer; but it is chiefly toward the end of the meditation that they are to be multiplied. One must not be concerned about the manner of expressing them; the simpler the manner, the better they are. When some good sentiment spontaneously lays hold of us, it is well to entertain it as long as we can and until our devotion is satisfied.
2) The resolutions should be practical, designed to improve our life, and therefore particular, accommodated to our present condition, and capable of being carried out that very day; they must be based upon solid motives. They must be humble and therefore accompanied by prayers to obtain the grace of carrying them into execution.
695. (3) THE CONCLUSION. This comprises three things:
[a] a summary view of the various resolutions already taken;
[b] devout colloquies with God the Father, Our Lord, the Blessed virgin or some Saint;
[c] and lastly, the review of the meditation, or the examination upon the way we have made it, in order to note its imperfections and to seek a remedy for them.
To give a clearer understanding of the method, we add the following synoptic table of the preludes, of the body of the prayer, and of the conclusion.
I PRELUDES :
(1) A rapid recall of the truth to be considered
(2) The composition of place through the imagination
(3) The petition for a special grace in harmony with the subject
II. BODY of the MEDITATION. Exercise of:
(1) The Memory by : A representation of the subject as a whole together with the chief circumstances
(2) The Understanding by asking:
1) What should I consider in this subject?
2) What practical conclusions should I draw from it?
3) What are my motives in drawing these conclusions ?
4) How have I heretofore lived up to this?
5) What must I do in the future the better to conform my life thereto?
6) What obstacles must I remove?
7) What means must I employ?
(3) The Will by:
1) Affections produced during the entire course of the meditation, especially at the end
2) Resolutions taken at the end of each point: practical, personal, sound, humble, full of trust
(1) Colloquies: with God, Jesus Christ, the Blessed virgin, the Saints
1) How have I made this meditation?
2) Wherein and why have I failed, or succeeded?
3) What practical conclusions have I drawn ? What requests have I made? What resolutions have I formed? What lights have I received?
4) Choice of a thought as a reminder of the meditation.
696. Advantages of this method. As may be readily observed, this method is highly psychological and highly practical.
a) It lays hold of all the faculties, the imagination included; applies them one after the other to the subject of meditation, and thus introduces an element of variety that makes it possible to consider a truth under its different aspects, to revolve it in our mind so as to assimilate it, to form convictions, and above all to draw therefrom practical conclusions for the present day.
b) Whilst this method lays emphasis upon the important part played by the will, which acts only after lengthy consideration of the motives, it does not minimize the role of grace, since one begs for it from the very outset, and again in the colloquies at the conclusion.
c) It is most suitable to beginners, for it states precisely, to the minutest details, what must be done from the preparation to the conclusion and thus prevents the faculties from wandering. Besides, it does not presuppose a deep knowledge of dogma, but only the contents of the Catechism, and hence adapts itself easily to the laity.
d) When simplified, this method is just as well suited to the most advanced souls; in fact, if one limits it to the main outline traced by St. Ignatius, it can be easily transformed into an affective prayer, which allows a wide scope to the inspirations of grace. The important thing is to know how to make an intelligent use of it under the wise guidance of an experienced spiritual director.
e) It has at times been criticized on the score that it does not give due prominence to Our Lord Jesus Christ. True, in the exercise of the three faculties Our Lord’s place is but incidental; but St. Ignatius has given us other methods, in particular, that of the contemplation of Mysteries and the application of the senses wherein Our Lord becomes the central object of the meditation.
There is nothing to hinder beginners from employing one or the other. The objection, therefore, has no foundation if the Ignatian methods are thoroughly followed.
II. THE METHOD of ST. SULPICE 
697. A) Origin. This method, coming after several others, has been influenced by them as to the details; but its underlying idea and broad lines originated with Cardinal de Berulle, Father de Condren, and Father Olier, whilst the supplementary details are the work of Father Tronson.
a) The underlying thought is that of union with the Incarnate Word in order to render through Him the religious homage due to God and to reproduce in ourselves the virtues of Jesus Christ.
b) The three essential acts are:
1) Adoration, wherein we consider one of the attributes or one of the perfections of God, or else some virtue of Our Lord as the model of that virtue we are to practice. Then we offer to God or to Our Lord, or to God through Our Lord, our religious homage in the form of adoration, admiration, praise, thanksgiving, love, joy or compassion. By thus paying our duties to the Author of grace we render Him propitious to our prayers. [Jesus before our Eyes]
2) Communion, whereby through prayer, we draw unto ourselves the perfection or the virtue which we have adored and admired in God or in Jesus Christ. [Jesus in our heart]
3) Co-operation, wherein under the influence of grace we determine to practice that virtue by forming at least one resolution which we strive to put into practice that very day. [Jesus in our hands]
This is the broad outline found in Cardinal de Berulle, Father de Condren and Father Olier. As found in these writers it is rather a method of affective prayer, cf. n. 994-997.
698. B) The additions of Father Tronson. It is evident that this meager outline, sufficient to souls already advanced, would prove inadequate for beginners. This was readily perceived at the Seminary of St. Sulpice, and whilst preserving the spirit and the essential elements of the original method, Father Tronson added to the second point, the communion, the considerations and self-examinations so indispensable to those that begin to meditate. Thus, once convinced of the importance or necessity of a virtue and realizing their lack of it, they ask for it with more earnestness, humility and perseverance. In this method, then, prayer is stressed even for beginners as the chief element of meditation. Hence, the name given to the third point-- Co-operation--to remind us that our good purposes are more the effect of grace than of our own volitions, but that on the other hand grace works nothing in us without our co-operation, and that all the day long we are to work with Jesus Christ in striving to reproduce that virtue which has been the subject of our meditation.
699. C) A Summary Of the Method. The following table will give an adequate idea of the method. We omit the remote preparation which is the same as the one explained in n. 689.
Proximate or Less Remote
(1) To choose the subject of the meditation the night before and determine what we are to consider in Our Lord; to foresee in particular, the considerations and requests we are to make and the resolutions we are to take.
(2) To remain henceforth in great recollection and keep in our mind the subject of the meditation whilst going to sleep.
(3) Upon rising in the morning, to avail ourselves of the first free time to make our meditation.
(1) To place ourselves in the presence of God, present everywhere and especially in our heart.
(2) To humble ourselves before God at the sight of our sins. Contrition. Recitation of the “Confiteor.” Act of union with Our Lord.
(3) To acknowledge ourselves incapable of praying as we ought. Invocation of the Holy Ghost: recitation of the “Veni, Sancte Spiritus.”
II. BODY of the MEDITATION.
1st point, Adoration; Jesus before our Eyes
(1) To consider the subject of our meditations in God, in Our Lord or in one of the Saints: His sentiments, words, actions.
(2) To offer our homage: adoration, admiration, praise, thanksgiving, love, joy or compassion.
2nd point, Communion: Jesus in our heart
(1) To convince ourselves of the necessity or importance of the virtue through motives of faith, through reasoning or through a detailed examination.
(2) To reflect on our conduct with sorrow for the past, confusion for the present, and desire for the future.
(3) To beseech God to grant us the virtue upon which we are meditating. (It is chiefly through this prayer that we participate in the virtues of Our Lord).--To beg also of God whatever else we need, to pray for the needs of the Church, and of all those for whom we are bound to pray.
3rd point, Co-operation: Jesus in our hands
(1) To form a resolution: particular, present, efficacious, humble.
(2) To renew the resolution relative to our particular examination.
(1) To thank God for the many graces He has bestowed upon us during the course of our meditation.
(2) To beg His pardon for our faults and negligences during this holy exercise.
(3) To beseech Him to bless our resolutions, the present day, our life, our death.
(4) To select some striking thought that impressed us during our meditation in order to remember it during the day and thus recall our resolutions.
(5) To place ourselves and the fruit of our meditation in the hands of the Blessed virgin.
Sub tuum praesidium
700. D) Characteristics of this method. a) The method is based upon the doctrine of our incorporation into Christ (n. 142-149), and upon the resultant obligation of reproducing in ourselves His interior dispositions and His virtues. To succeed therein we must, as Father Olier puts it, have Jesus before our eyes, in order to gaze upon Him as our model and offer Him our homage--adoration; we must have Him in our heart, drawing unto us through prayer His sentiments and His virtues--communion, we must have Him in our hands, sharing with Him in the work of reproducing His virtues --co- operation. An intimate union with Jesus, then, is the soul of this method.
b) It places the duty of religion (reverence and love towards God) before that of petition. God comes first! The God it places before us is not an abstract, philosophical concept, but a concrete, personal God, the living God of the Gospels, the Most Blessed Trinity living in us.
c) In asserting the need both of grace and of our cooperation, it lays the emphasis upon grace and hence upon prayer, whilst at the same time it demands the energetic and persevering effort of the will, of specific, pertinent, oft-renewed resolutions on the keeping of which we examine ourselves at the end of the day.
701 . d) It is a method of affective prayer supported by considerations. It begins with religious sentiments in the first point; the considerations in the second are designed to elicit from the heart acts of faith in the supernatural truths on which we meditate, acts of hope in the Divine mercy, acts of love towards God’s infinite goodness; the self-examinations are accompanied by sorrow for the past, confusion for the present, and a firm purpose of amendment for the future; the aim of all these acts being to prepare a humble, confident and persevering prayer. In order to prolong this petition, the method furnishes various motives, explained at length, and further suggests a prayer for the whole Church and for certain souls in particular. The resolutions are to be made with distrust of self, absolute confidence in Jesus Christ, and accompanied by a prayer that we may be enabled to put them into effect. Lastly, the conclusion is but a series of acts of gratitude, of humility and further petitions. Thus we avoid giving a too philosophical turn to our reasoning and to our considerations, and prepare the way for affective prayer and for prayer of simplicity; for the method tells us that it is not necessary always to perform all these acts, or in the order prescribed, but that we should rather abandon ourselves to the affections that God excites in us, and repeat frequently those to which we feel particularity attracted by the Holy Ghost. No doubt, beginners as a rule give more time to reasoning than to other acts, yet they are constantly reminded by the method that affections are preferable, and thus they gradually give to them a larger place in their meditation.
e) This method is especially suited to priests and seminarians. It continually reminds them that being other Christs by virtue of their character and their powers, they should be so likewise in their dispositions and virtues, and that all their perfection consists in causing Jesus to live and to grow in their souls.
702 . These two methods, then, have their respective excellence according to the special object they have in view. The same may be said of all the other methods, which more or less approach one of these two types. It is well that there are many of them, so that each one may with the advice of his director choose, according to his own supernatural attractions, the method that suits him best.
As Father Poulain says, these methods are like the numerous rules of rhetoric and logic; beginners must be taught these, but once they have been so schooled in them that they possess their spirit and their elements, they need but follow the broad lines of the method, and then, without ceasing to be active, they give greater heed to the movements of the Holy Ghost.
 “Spiritual Exercises,” 1st Week, 1st Exercise; (Translation by Father Rickaby, S. J.); See CLARE, S. J. “The Science of the Spiritual Life;” CRASSET, “A Key to Meditation:” FABER. “Growth in Holiness,” C. XV,
 G. LETOURNEAU, “La Methode d’oraison mentale du Sem. de S. Sulpice,” Paris, 1903, especially p. 321-332; FABER, “Growth in Holiness, C. XV.
 We make special mention of the method of St. Francis de Sales, “Devout Life,” II Part. ch. II-VII; of that of the Discalced Carmelites, “Instruction des Novices” by V.P. J. de Jesus-Marie, III Part. ch. II; Aurelianus a SS. Sacramento, “Cursus Spirituel” by Dom Lehodey, 1910, sect. V, ch. IV; of that of the Dominicans “Instruction des Novices,” by Fr. Cormier.
 “Etudes,” 20 mars 1898, p. 782, note 2.
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