Importance of Mental Prayer

“He who neglects mental prayer needs no devil to carry him to hell. He brings himself there with his own hands.” Yet “The devil knows that he has lost the soul that perseveringly practices mental prayer.” -Saint Teresa of Avila

 -“It is morally impossible for him who neglects meditation to live without sin . . . Many say the Rosary, the Office of the Blessed Virgin, and perform other works of devotion; but they still continue in sin. But it is impossible for him who perseveres in mental prayer to continue in sin: he will either give up meditation or renounce sin.” -Saint Alphonsus

“Knowing how much is at stake, the devil wants at all costs to keep us from being faithful to mental prayer.” -Father Jacques Philippe

“To vocal prayer we must add mental prayer, which enlightens the mind, inflames the heart and disposes the soul to listen to the voice of wisdom, to savor his delights and possess his treasures. For myself, I know of no better way of establishing the kingdom of God, eternal wisdom, than to united vocal and mental prayer by saying the holy Rosary and meditating on its 15 mysteries.” – St. Louis de Monfort

 “Mental prayer is the blessed furnace in which souls are inflamed with the love of God. All the saints have become saints by mental prayer.” -S Alphonsus

“In the first place, without mental prayer the soul is without light.They, says St. Augustine, who keep their eyes shut cannot see the way to their country. The eternal truths are all spiritual things that are seen, not with eyes of the body, but with the eyes of the mind; that is, by reflection and consideration. Now, they who do not make mental prayer do not see these truths, neither do they see the importance of eternal salvation, and the means which they can adopt in order to obtain it.

The loss of so many souls arises from the neglect of considering the great affair of our salvation, and what we must do in order to be saved. “With desolation,” says the prophet Jeremias, “is all the land made desolate: because there is none that considereth in the heart” (Jer 12:2). On the other hand, the Lord says that he who keeps before his eyes the truths of faith ——that is, death, judgment, and the happy or unhappy eternity that awaits us——shall never fall into sin. “In all thy works remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin” (Sirach 7:36).

St. Bonaventure also says that mental prayer is, as it were, a mirror, in which we see all the stains of the soul. In a letter to the Bishop of Osma, St. Teresa says, “Although it appears to us that we have no imperfections, still when God opens the eyes of the soul, as He usually does in prayer, our imperfections are then clearly seen.”

He who does not make mental prayer does not even know his defects, and therefore, as St. Bernard says, he does not abhor them. He does not even know the dangers to which his eternal salvation is exposed, and, therefore, he does not even think of avoiding them. But he who applies himself to meditation instantly sees his faults, and the dangers of perdition, and, seeing them, he will reflect on the remedies for them. ” -St. Alphonsus:  https://www.ourcatholicprayers.com/alphonsus-liguori-on-mental-prayer.html 

“In mental prayer, the soul is purified from its sins, nourished with charity, confirmed in faith, and strengthened in hope; the mind expands, the affections dilate, the heart is purified, truth becomes evident; temptation is conquered, sadness dispelled; the senses are renovated; drooping powers revive; tepidity ceases; the rust of vices disappears. Out of mental prayer issues forth, like living sparks, those desires of heaven which the soul conceives when inflamed with the fire of divine love. Sublime is the excellence of mental prayer, great are its privileges; to mental prayer heaven is opened; to mental prayer heavenly secrets are manifested and the ear of God [is] ever attentive.” -Saint Peter of Alcantara

St. Thomas' Prayer for a Wisely Ordered Life

For Ordering a Life Wisely, from https://www.aquinas.edu/sites/default/files/prayers.pdf
St. Thomas recited this daily before the image of Christ:

 
O merciful God, grant that I may desire ardently, search prudently, recognize truly, and
bring to perfect completion whatever is pleasing to You for the praise and glory of Your
name.
Put my life in order, O my God.
Grant that I may know what You require me to do.
Bestow upon me the power to accomplish Your will, as is necessary and fitting for the
salvation of my soul.
Grant to me, O Lord my God, that I may not falter in times of prosperity or adversity, so
that I may not be exalted in the former, nor dejected in the latter.
May I not rejoice in anything unless it leads me to You; may I not be saddened by
anything unless it turns me from You.
May I desire to please no one, nor fear to displease anyone, but You.
May all transitory things, O Lord, be worthless to me and may all things eternal be ever
cherished by me.
May any joy without You be burdensome for me and may I not desire anything else
besides You.
May all work, O Lord, delight me when done for Your sake and may all repose not
centered in You be ever wearisome for me.
Grant unto me, my God, that I may direct my heart to You and that in my failures I may
ever feel remorse for my sins and never lose the resolve to change.
O Lord my God, make me submissive without protest, poor without discouragement,
chaste without regret, patient without complaint, humble without posturing, cheerful
without frivolity, mature without gloom, and quick-witted without flippancy.
O Lord my God, let me fear You without losing hope, be truthful without guile, do good
works without presumption, rebuke my neighbor without haughtiness, and—without
hypocrisy—strengthen him by word and example.
Give to me, O Lord God, a watchful heart, which no capricious thought can lure away
from You.
Give to me a noble heart, which no unworthy desire can debase.
Give to me a resolute heart, which no evil intention can divert.

Give to me a stalwart heart, which no tribulation can overcome.
Give to me a temperate heart, which no violent passion can enslave.
Give to me, O Lord my God, understanding of You, diligence in seeking You, wisdom in
finding You, discourse ever pleasing to You, perseverance in waiting for You, and
confidence in finally embracing You.
Grant that with Your hardships I may be burdened in reparation here, that Your benefits I
may use in gratitude upon the way, that in Your joys I may delight by glorifying You in
the Kingdom of Heaven.
You Who live and reign, God, world without end. Amen.

SOCA Clarifications

This page is updated over time.

1) How does one support? 

We like to speak with our mission patrons before asking them to donate. Please get in touch with Kevin!

2) Is SOCA Catholic? With the pope? What about liturgy?

SOCA is a lay-run organization of baptized and confirmed Catholics. We are faithful to Rome and the Holy Father Pope Francis, and recognize both the ordinary and extraordinary forms of the Mass as valid. We are not under any official religious order or ecclesial society. Our aim is the formation of a saints snd to simply be authentically Catholic; we are not a group primarily concerned with liturgical or political movements, though we appreciate the traditional Latin Mass as a source of formation. Our charism incorporates the richness of tradition on many levels. Concretely, we currently attend a Fraternity of Saint Peter Parish for our normal Mass attendance.

3) Is it for women as well?

SOCA operates in a two-pronged way: 1) one-on-one accountability, 2) wide-net apostolate. “1)” is gender-specific; right now, there are only men but our prayer is for women to start incorporating SOCA formation in accountability as well! “2)” will be for both.

4) How is it different than other evangelization organizations?

SOCA values in-depth formation as crucial to building authentic Catholic leaders. The three pillars of this are: 1) catechesis, 2) interior life, and 3) enrichment in Catholic identity and tradition. This latter covers much, including meditation on vocational callings, the domestic church (the family), and redemptive suffering through the cross. As a whole, the emphasis is on serious formation to play the long-game of evangelization. We have not found another evangelization effort that has a clear model with such depth in these three pillars.

Preliminaries for Missionary Applicants

This page is for anyone desiring to do apostolic work, not necessarily for SOCA. Praise God for this desire; we need great apostles! A persevering resolution to serve God is key. Much of the below will probably appear challenging or rigid. But I promise those who follow it will first find incredible delights in the Lord as the central and most meaningful gift you could receive; and what will flow is an apostolate that will be rich, fruitful, abundant, and worth all sacrifices. The glowing attraction (and polarization) of Saints is and always has been the best way of evangelization in the Catholic Church.

There is a preliminary level (generally speaking) one should attain before diving into evangelization efforts, let alone setting oneself as a “missionary-disciple/leader/example”.

Here is what Dom Chautard says: “As long as the active worker has not reached the point where he is habitually recollected and habitually dependent on grace -a dependence and recollection which accompany him everywhere he goes- he is still not in a satisfactory state of the interior life…a soul cannot lead an interior life without the schedule… and a firm resolution to keep it.” -The Soul of the Apostolate, 198.

Once this is the case, you will have advanced sufficiently; if you do not do this, you seriously danger 1) yourself and 2) others. 1) because you are still in the beginning stages where active asceticism rather than cooperatively passive contemplation (infused)  where God takes the initiative on the purifying and sustains the soul. Until then, Saint Teresa would say, it is critical to focus on one’s own sanctification, negation and detachment from things, and not become dispersed with concerns for others’ growth because of our pride and sense of self-satisfaction that actually stunts our growth and leads us to digress to even more shallow beginnings. This is obvious in the practical sense: the daily rule of life has not become such an engraved habit that one can presume to add more things to focus on on top of it. 2) because others are influenced by you: they will think your vices and lack of discipline is actually virtuous and acceptable, and thus fall into the same activism you do. But this is even worse because they are formed in this mindset of thinking, and thus reject deeper calls to sanctification by other sources because they think “they know what it means to be Catholic”. Well, I will say I’ve seen this happen personally and it is truly tragic, recognizing the infinite treasure the perfection of just one soul is!

 

 

 

Below is a list of things you should be doing before you endeavor to occupy much time reaching out and doing apostolic/missionary work and evangelization. Think of it as a pyramid that must be built compounded, one habit at a time. Start at the bottom (literally, the bottom of the hyphenated list below); once it is complete then it is a strong and majestic masterpiece ready for purifications of grace given from God through the interior and the apostolate. 10 apostles formed as such will be far more effective than 100 interiorly-lukewarm “disciples” trying to spread the faith.

-a spiritual director you meet with monthly to whom you are accountable to and speak about your interior life with

-45 minutes of mental prayer daily (minimally) [I add here: learning about the traditional liturgy of the Church and formation with a spirit of gravitas that includes supernatural realism with eternal consequences, the effects of original sin, etc.]

-daily habit of creating and keeping a schedule, daily mass multiple times a week

-minimal rule of life: rosary, rising and bed time, set time daily for mental prayer, 15 minutes of spiritual reading, regular study of the faith [I recommend finding a friend or Catholic leader to be accountable to and speak frequently with about accountability–weekly if possible

-minimal Catholic formation: know basics of Catechism (Baltimore Catechism is recommended to start since it is straightforward), read a basic instruction on mental prayer (ex: Conversation with Christ by Father Rohrbach, or Treatise on Mental Prayer by Saint Peter of Alcantara).

-first and foremost 3 criteria: a resolute will (to persevere in embracing the cross in order to advance toward perfection and union with God through the life of prayer and asceticism), discretion and liberty of spirit (retain your common sense and prudence of how to mortify your passions correctly to maximize spiritual energy, not destroy it), and great desires (desire the absolute heights of perfect union with God–spiritual magnanimity)

 

 

 

If you are considering apostolic work, ask yourself if you are ready to build these habits over the course of the next few months. Psychologists say that it takes 40 days to build a habit. There are a lot of habits above and it is difficult to build more than 1-2 at a time, so get started! But do not presume on apostolic endeavors without the above preliminaries in place. So many involved in ministry do this today–what a tragedy for themselves and others! Yes, you may consider this a serious challenge to certain mainstream evangelization efforts among Catholics today where such formation is not emphasized.

If you find yourself already in the apostolate without these habits currently, I strongly advise you to decrease your active work, lest activism lead you to the errors mentioned above.

Almost everything on here is just a synthesis of the mater spiritualium of the Church, Saint Teresa of Avila. She majestically climbed the heights of holiness with mysticism, ascetism, and apostolic work, reforming the Carmelite order in the midst of the Protestant Revolt in the 16th century.

For Mission Partners: How to Donate

Brief intro and instructions as of October 1, 2018

 

Introduction

This video is an introduction to SOCA’s mission: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEvenWIjwR0&t=330s

A One-Page PDF Description of SOCA: SOCA Flyer Introduction

We prefer personal connections with mission partners (benefactors). Please contact Kevin!

How to donate

By November we should have an online platform setup for easy sign-up for automatic monthly donations (you will be sent this as soon as it is ready).

*However, there is urgency for startup funds. For this first month, please consider donating either 1) by a check written out to “Souls of the Christian Apostolate” or “SOCA” (either works), or 2) a one-time donation through paypal here (no paypal account is required): https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=KKGWAC238KUZ2*

Budget Summary

The minimum goal is $3000/month pledged. We have a little more than $2000/month to go. $2000-2500 will go to living expenses (in Denver, CO), and $500-1000 to business-related expenses.

We generally ask for $50-100 commitments–some give more and others less. You truly do participate in this mission and merit in its fruits; please pray and ask God if this is a mission that will glorify Him and win souls, and if He is inviting you to partake. Contact us with questions about the specifics of the budget (or the entire business plan) and we will gladly share them. Note: $3000/mo is $250/mo less than what the minimum is for other Catholic missionaries; we will have to run another campaign later, but this is just the minimum to start.

 

 

Accountability Meetings

“Remember, Christian soul,
that thou has this day,
and every day of thy life:
God to glorify.
Jesus to imitate.
A soul to save.
A body to mortify.
Sins to repent of.
Virtues to acquire.
Hell to avoid.
Heaven to gain.
Eternity to prepare for.
Time to profit by.
Neighbors to edify.
The world to despise.
Devils to combat.
Passions to subdue.
Death, perhaps, to suffer.
Judgment to undergo.”
-Saint Augustine

 

These weekly meetings have two aspects: 1) focused and concise accountability strictly held, and 2) spiritual conversation.

1) Focused and Concise Accountability

This is accountability of daily commitments (their “rule”). Resolutions are recorded and “scored” in the excel sheet. There are three parts of the meeting: prior week review, brainstorming, commit to next week. It is a frank account of what is committed to with a clear tracking system, and collaboration on how to 1) most effectively keep the rule, and 2) what the most effective rule for sanctification would consist of.

Assuming the most important goal is to truly live for God and union with Him, and the only way to achieve this is through passive purification of infused contemplation, then the question for accountability is “what is the best way to dispose oneself to this?” The answer: through the presence of God and unceasing prayer in active efforts of purification and supernatural cooperation. “What is the clearest resolution for this to be most frequently and most intensely practiced?” The answer: a rule of life. This line of reasoning should all be agreed upon from the beginning (though our rebellious hearts and clouded intellects must meditate on these supernatural truths frequently to remain in this true mindset!).

Thus, the prudential question for the SOCA soldier is this: “what is the rule (i.e. daily disciplines) for you to resolve to follow for this next week that would be most impactful for attaining this goal of active purification?” This takes some background found in study of the faith and practical collaboration between brothers. These resolutions should be reasonably attainable–for it is a resolution to keep them strictly. But this is worth it if the eternal merit and consequences are weighed, and the love of God considered!

(For more on Focused and Concise Accountability, see the bottom notes)

2) Spiritual Conversation

This is a brother-to-brother discussion that is a blending of the speculative truths of the faith with our concrete, day-to-day lives. Born into the wretched state original sin and its consequences, we are blinded from seeing God and have so many wicked and numbing tendencies that disorient us from our one true end, which is God! This conversation should organically remind and reorient us toward the most important thing (“the One Thing Necessary), and therefore foster zeal which gives us motivation to fit those things that fall under the second paragraph of 1): desire to give God everything, to unite to Him, to receive infused contemplation, to avoid sin, to live for eternity.

Rather than watering down our salvation with mere affirmations, we recognize that evangelization begins with repentance, conversion, and lofty resolution–and continued repentance, conversion, and lofty resolution. This begins with ourselves. By reminding each other of this through reflections on supernatural truths, as well as by the implicit encouragement of having a brother striving for the same ideal, we are strengthened in our convictions as soldiers of Christ. This is not a session of vulnerable self-pity to make us feel better about ourselves. True charity for one another is a care primarily for the eternal salvation of the other’s soul. Saint Augustine’s meditation sums up well the contents of this reflective conversation aiming “to remember”:

Remember, Christian soul,
that thou has this day,
and every day of thy life:
God to glorify.
Jesus to imitate.
A soul to save.
A body to mortify.
Sins to repent of.
Virtues to acquire.
Hell to avoid.
Heaven to gain.
Eternity to prepare for.
Time to profit by.
Neighbors to edify.
The world to despise.
Devils to combat.
Passions to subdue.
Death, perhaps, to suffer.
Judgment to undergo.”

 

 

 

 

 

Notes

Some considerations about the meaning of “reasonably attainable”… The notion of progressive ascetism is important here; resolve to things you can reasonably keep; these are truly resolutions and you are, in a way, binding yourself to them. Think of them as unconditional, the “inexcusably kept daily minimum”. To compare with exercise: this is not your “max rep point” but your regular “daily workout routine” which will over time increase both your “max rep point” and your weight in your “daily workout routine”. Sometimes “maxing out” can increase both as well–which is why retreats as well as days of penance and fasting are essential for growth. But this is separate from one’s daily accountable resolutions.

If the bare minimum of having a rising time, 15 minutes of mental prayer, and the rosary are not attainable, then there is a lack of prioritization in one’s life. If the rising time is the problem, 2 potential causes are: 1) lack of prioritization the day before causing one to not go to bed at a proper hour for sufficient rest, or 2) problem getting up. If 2), a) this could be a lack of will and recognition of how important this is, and/or b) insufficient incentives/deterrents to do this, and/or c) too early of a rising time.

A note on the context of fraternal accountability: a trustworthy priest would obviously be helpful here, but strict “regular spiritual direction” is not necessarily recommended until one is doing 45 minutes of mental prayer daily (according to Father Chad Ripperger, an contemporary authority on spiritual matters). As mentioned in the formation plan, fraternal accountability lays the groundwork for spiritual direction. That being said, for psychological-spiritual problems (such as scruples), having a regular and trustworthy confessor (not necessarily spiritual director) is highly encouraged if not imperative.

These discussions will be based around the classical method of Socratic dialogue with question and answer to come to truth. This is so because of the psychomoral nature of the human: we must first assent to something as true with our intellect before we can will it as good. This discussion is a matter of coming to that assent as well as stirring the will to love and be moved toward it.

Summary: A Rule of Life

“‘My Father, I desire to depart out of my mediocrity and enter into the way of sanctification: which goal should I start with?’

‘By the choice of a rule of life.’

 . . . . (this will) guide all those who desire plenitude and the true life but are not bound within the cloister.”

The above is the synopsis of “Une Règle de Vie” (A Rule of Life), written by “un moine bénédictin” (a benedictine monk) in the late 1900s. This monk is presumably Dom Gerard, the founder of “Les Barroux” abbey in France, one of the few groups to approach Pope John Paul II in 1988 (Ecclessia Dei) to offer the Traditional Mass as their norm (two others: the Fraternity of Saint Vincent Ferrer [France] and the Fraternity of Saint Peter). The book was written in French to a married lay woman who, after being disabled by an accident, desired to live for God and advance in the spiritual life.

The tradition of following a “rule” of life is rooted in the Rule of Saint Benedict. Written by the Saint himself, the rule sets guidelines to follow for the Benedictine life. It is predicated on the idea that we need routine in order to have a rich prayer life and a life of virtue. Indeed, the whole notion of being a “religious” (as in being a part of a religious order) is founded on the notion of having a rule to follow. The virtue of religion then connects the naturally virtuous actions with the supernatural.

Dom Gerard sets out to give guiding principles for a lay individual to make a little rule of life for himself. Speaking from personal experience and study, I can say that a routine of prayer is imperative for anyone seeking holiness. In my opinion, without a structured life, it is impossible to persevere and advance in mental prayer–especially today with so many distractions, comforts, and gratifications. This rule should be adapted to your state of life, and not be too extremely different than what you are used to; while “absolute ascetism” (i.e. we must detach from all things in order that we may have Everything–God) is indeed a spiritual principle (Carmelite spirituality–a universal spirituality–emphasizes this, as our Lord makes it clear), so are the principles of “adaptive ascetism” (i.e. adapt to the individual circumstances) and “progressive ascetism” (i.e. growing by increments rather than all at once) (for more on these principles, see the book I Want to See God by blessed p. Marie-Eugene, O.C.D.).

Due to our fallen nature, we need guidelines to follow that clearly light the way to know and follow God’s will in our life (this actually brings peace!); it is humble recognition of your own tendency to have “good desires” but not turn them into long-standing habits. In today’s Church, many get “retreat highs” and say they want to “give everything to God”; well, here is a concrete way to do so: live a rule of life. For the rest of your life. It takes perseverance, as the feelings die down. But this is the way to best assure a life-long practice of the mental prayer and interior life with God. Everything without God is nothing and nothing with God is everything: giving oneself to God through a commitment to begin striving after a rule is a start to living in truth and for eternity.

If you are a lay individual and have not done so already, I encourage you to develop one for yourself and find someone you are accountable to for 5-7 basic daily resolutions. A few of the most essential: rising time, mental prayer, rosary, spiritual reading, daily Mass if possible, examination of conscience, study of the faith.

Summary of Une Règle de Vie by a benedictine monk

(Some translations may not be exact but the general idea should be made)

Introduction:

“Do not believe those who say they break the rules for the sake of love. Where the rule is broken, love dies. –Gustave Thibon”

“Two words magnificently summarize the monastic spirituality in the 12th century: magnitudo, the greatness of man made in the image of God, and rectitudo, the necessary effort of rectitude after (due to) the fall of original sin.”

“Men are always obliged to assure themselves against themselves. Good will does not suffice, for it will bend quickly when facing the possibility of imminent death, (yet) even more quickly (“good will” bends) when returning to the easy yet boring work which fills the life of a soldier but which are, however, indispensable. —Souvenirs du temps des morts by Captain André Bridoux”

Many will think “if only I had more time to do it all over again and resolve to live out the ‘good desires’ I had!”

“Without personal discipline, there would be no artist, no writer, no engineer; personal talent and holiness are guaranteed to fail. Without a rule, no masterpiece, not contemplative life, no mystical elevation. It would (now) be the time to get rid of slogans of easiness which strew the rotting soil of this end of the century, and to once again find the secret of the ancients in order to become not mishonest tricksters, but wise artisans of our own lives . . . ‘(to be) genius consists of sitting down at the determined hour at one’s work table.'”

One important distinction is between strict and loose rules. The former bind a man in a more profound obligation, and it is these that he (the author) intends to speak of. Seeing the demand of this now-disabled woman, “Moved . . . knowing how few souls dare to adventure along this path (diving into the depths of the interior life and committing to a rule), I decided to honor her demand. . . .  First I posed a question to her: ‘Are you resolute to use all the means (necessary) to enter into the interior life, and do you know that it requires as much courage as it does to enter into religion (i.e. religious life)? If yes, then entrust this holy desire to the Virgin Mary.”

3 Negative Maxims:

  1. “One must be careful to never limit (“enfermer”) the spiritual life to the exercies which are proper to it. . . . It is necessary to include the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, Who is the light of lights. The golden rule of the spiritual life is not written; every path is unique: essentially, it is about corresponding to grace.”
  2. “Avoid the eclectic curiosity of a butterfly (le papillonnage éclectique), which would like to read everything, to hang on (se pencher sur) every author (i.e. like they are all gospel), to desire to know everything. There is great wisdom in considering what was the first grace which attracted us to the interior life, and to hold ourselves close to this: by which mysterious shadow was our soul touched? . . . Our interior unity consists less in a mass of successive pieces of knowledge, than by a constant fidelity to the initial grace . . . . The principal rule . . . (is focus) on the essential things.”
  3. “It is not necessary to expose the secret of your interior life to all people. What is good for you is perhaps not for another. In dogma, it is necessary to believe all, to accept all. On the spiritual plane, however, there is a great liberty: hold as good that which you find success with. A secret instinct with reveal to you that you are on the good way: ‘The spiritual man judges all and is not judged by anything.’ (2 Cor)”

1) Taste for God: This must come before all disciples, giving all the rest their sense. “Saint Benedict, before reading his Rule to the postulant, would ask him if he truly is looking for God.”

2) Reading: “Reading to inform oneself is quite normal; reading to nourish one’s soul is more rare . . . . to read in order to engrave in your spirit something of eternity . . . . to clarify and comfort us in our intimate convictions. ” Consider a notebook (“un livre de raison”, a book of reason) to write down our most important ideas.

3) Meditation: “The Latin word meditari meant, for the ancients, to repeat outloud, to chew, to stir (as in consider) the words of a text without ceasing, in order to nourish oneself and to integrate them (into) oneself (essentially, to be impressed upon by them). Some tell me: ‘My Father, I cannot meditate (as in one does not succeed when trying)’ But the goal of meditation is mental prayer. Some souls immediately enter into mental prayer. Saint Vincent de Paul comes to their defense: ‘once the wick it lit,’ he says, ‘would one still continue to spark the lighter?'”

4) Mental Prayer (l’oraison): “If Jesus is everything for you, absolutely everything, then the question of interior prayer, which is vital, will no longer pose itself as a duty but as a necessity . . . . here below, nothing good is done without discipline, without a rule, I would even say without sorrow . . . . (mental prayer,) for the sick people we are, keeps us in line (se règle), as the nutrition and the path (for our soul) . . . So it is necessary to arrange 20 minutes everyday in order to permit your soul to breath freely in God. Are there methods? Yes, and the more simple ones are the best. Recite slowly a prayer and stop yourself at certain moments . . . . Saint Teresa of Avila loved to look by faith at Christ present in her soul. She said, ‘Mental prayer is a friendly exchange where one converses frequently, one-on-one, with God who we know loves us.’ . . . Finally Bossuet: it is necessary to accustom oneself to nourish the soul with a simple and loving look in God and Jesus Christ our Lord; and, for this effect, it is necessary to gently separate it (the soul) from reasoning, from discourse and a multitude of affections, in order to hold in simplicity, respect and attention, and draw it (the soul) more and more to God, its unique good, its first principle and last end.”

5) Ejaculatory prayers: When your soul, for some reason, can no longer ray in the ruled and organized way which was habitual for you, it (the soul) should launch itself toward God in a free and affectionate movement, and these successive bursts will dispose you to this enviable summit which is the prayer of simplicity (l’oraison de simplicité) . . . . But prayer is not a concentration of the spirit. It is a loving look, a rest, an abandon of the soul above agitations. A second nature. ‘The monk,’ says John Cassian, ‘really begins to pray when he no longer perceives himself to be praying.’ It is the continual union to God that the saints make as their ambition, and which mark the entrance into the mystical life.”

6) The Rosary: “Daily recited the five decades of the rosary which compose, the week taken as a whole, the series of the mysteries of the rosary, is a considerable gain (“un appoint”) in the search of the interior life. And this, not so much in virtue of a greater quantity of prayer, than by the grace of the mysteries which accompany you throughout your days.”

7) Confession and communion: “Two sacramental acts accompany you all along your life: confession and communion . . . .  (In confession:) if possible, be faithful in confessing yourself to the same priest. Be brief in your accusations and precise in the circumstances which surround them . . . . Do not search to establish a dialogue. (Confess) With the eyes of faith . . . . We recieve communion in the same act as His sacrificial oblation: see what demand this supposes in your daily conduct, in accepting trials that you encounter . . . .”

8) Liturgical prayer: “The most venerable of these monuments of Christian piety is the Latin and Gregorian Mass according to the ancient rite. Have under your eyes a translation which allows you to grasp all its richness . . . . consider the missal as the manual par excellence of the Christian . . . . The sacred texts and rites will teach you, additionally, the profound reverence that the soul should feel in the presence of divine things.”

9) The intercessors: Saints, Sacred Heart, Mary Mediatrix, the Angels. “Do not omit the daily prayer to your guardian angel”.

10) Spiritual Direction: “Two thousand years of experience remark that since God became man, it is by men that men are guided to God . . . This direction should be firm, prudent, and respectful toward the mystery of souls. Saint Teresa of Avila insists that the spiritual father have right judgement, experience, and that he be a man of doctrine. The usefulness of a spiritual father manifests itself is especially at the moment when the progressive, cut off from sensible piety, enters into the night of the senses . . . . The duty of the directee in two words: openness of soul and docility . . . . The dependence on the spiritual father has numerous advantages: it rids the soul of its scruples, pushes aside illusions, and mortifies self-will.” It also dispenses the soul of the analyses and returns to self which greatly darken the soul.

Saint John of the Cross notes three features of the entrance into the Illuminitive way of prayer: “-one does not find taste or consolation in divine things nor in human things; one keeps a lively desire to serve God and the fear of displeasing Him; one has difficulty in discursive meditation and has an attraction for the prayer of simplicity (of a simple look; “l’oraison de simple regard”).

11) Duty of one’s state (of life): The actions of one’s day consist of “the duty of one’s state and charity toward those you are closest with. This double demand is the context in which you place reading and mental prayer . . . . Your spouse and children should always find you available. Find refuge, therefore, in the present moment. Richness of the present moment: the past no longer exists, the future does not yet exist, but the present moment immediately links us to the eternal presence of God.”

12) Examination of conscience

“‘I promise Heaven and a high degree of glory in heaven, to whoever will do a good particular examenation of conscience everyday.’ Teach your children to do likewise ever even before reciting the act of contrition, at the time of family prayer . . . ‘The two great obstacles to the interior life are the unacknowledged defects and the faults with bad reparation'”.

13) The State of Marriage

“Do not be estonished if sometimes you sometimes freel a nostalgia for consacrated virginity: among the states of life, this is the most high state of life to which our Lord invites us to in the Gospel. For all women there is at the same time an attraction for maternity and a secret attraction for the state of virgins. This comes from the mysterious and profound character of woman. Without a dout the state of marriage belongs to the common way, but it should never appear as an easy which dispense of perfection. All is said in Casti connubii of Pius XI. the Church reminds the austere duty; God gives the grace. Here is what Louis Veuiloot says: ‘You will find that the Church is mixes much too many things: we bless it, us others… for She imposes a time of waiting, of reflection, a confessor, prayer: marriage is a holy state, it is necessary to enter with trebling, non as in a time of pleasure, but as in a way of duty, bitter sometimes, always laborious, sweet only like the rest of things in life, by sacrifice.”

14) Mortification

 

Soldiers of Christ: Grace of Confirmation

From the Baltimore Catechism:

 670. What is Confirmation? Confirmation is a Sacrament through which we receive the Holy Ghost to make us strong and perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ.

671. When was Confirmation instituted? The exact time at which Confirmation was instituted is not known. But as this Sacrament was administered by the Apostles and numbered with the other Sacraments instituted by Our Lord, it is certain that He instituted this Sacrament also and instructed His Apostles in its use, at some time before His ascension into heaven.

672. Why is Confirmation so called?

Confirmation is so called from its chief effect, which is to strengthen or render us more firm in whatever belongs to our faith and religious duties.

673. Why are we called soldiers of Jesus Christ?

We are called soldiers of Jesus Christ to indicate how we must resist the attacks of our spiritual enemies and secure our victory over them by following and obeying Our Lord.

What is meant by anointing the forehead with chrism in the form of a cross?

By anointing the forehead with chrism in the form of a cross is meant that the Christian who is confirmed must openly profess and practice his faith, never be ashamed of it; and rather die than deny it.

693. Why should we know the chief mysteries of faith and the duties of a Christian before receiving Confirmation?

We should know the Chief Mysteries of Faith and the duties of a Christian before receiving Confirmation because as one cannot be a good soldier without knowing the rules of the army to which he belongs and understanding the commands of his leader, so one cannot be a good Christian without knowing the laws of the Church and understanding the commands of Christ.

694. Is it a sin to neglect Confirmation?

It is a sin to neglect Confirmation, especially in these evil days when faith and morals are exposed to so many and such violent temptations.

695. What do we mean by “these evil days”?

By “these evil days” we mean the present age or century in which we are living, surrounded on all sides by unbelief, false doctrines, bad books, bad example and temptation in every form.

697. Are sponsors necessary in Confirmation?

Sponsors are necessary in Confirmation, and they must be of the same good character as those required at Baptism, for they take upon themselves the same duties and responsibilities. They also contract a spiritual relationship, which, however, unlike that in Baptism, is not an impediment to marriage.

698. Which are the effects of Confirmation?

The effects of Confirmation are an increase of sanctifying grace, the strengthening of our faith, and the gifts of the Holy Ghost.

http://www.baltimore-catechism.com/lesson15.htm

 

How to Apply SOCA's Method

Below are some suggestions for applying the SOCA method for women–that is, to help them attain their destiny which is union with God. This height cannot be forgotten, lest the danger of lukewarmness in the appearance of being a “happy Catholic” arise. The flourishing of the life of grace progresses more and more interiorly. Having external discipline is necessary for such interiority. Below are merely suggestions and I am certainly open to discussion and comments about how to adjust them. Finally, many of these suggestions apply to both men and women. I was just first asked how to apply this method of apostolate by a woman.

I suggest reading “the Method” first. Women are different than men…

-I’d except the “friendship” would look different. Perhaps the relationships is grounded in greater sensitivity yet more hands-on accountability. I would think this because men take longer to grow in trust, whereas women will quickly trust but this trust is more quickly lost. Women also tend to need more guidance, more frequently than men.

-Be careful to not let it become “coaching” about some matter insignificant to salvation (ex: the basic resolutions in a spiritual plan of life). If the trainee is not willing to talk about such matters and commit to doing them, I hate to say it, but I would say your time is better spent elsewhere. To figure this out, be straightforward: write down basic resolutions they should set as goals. If they hesitate, ask if they truly want to live for God. If they say yes, then this is a concrete manifestation of the habits they should begin to try to obtain. If they say they want to start striving and are honest/serious about it, then they should also be OK with having accountability with it. Clarity IS KEY.

-If you do not have a rule of life decided upon and consistent practice of it already yourself: do as Saint Teresa of Avila says (I believe in the 8th chapter of her autobiography): do not “appear” to come across as a teacher or an example. Suggest accountability as a mutual exercise. You can subtly say “this is what the saints recommend” in what the other is to agree upon. This should only be done in the context of 1) one’s close circle of influence (ex: immediate family or very close friend), or 2) someone asking for mutual (that is, you both aid one another) accountability. Otherwise, you will risk falling into activism and ruin your own spiritual life.

-I’d suggest not putting too much weight on yourself to “make this happen” and don’t put too much hope in the success of this immediate purpose you have. That can set you up for pride and serious discouragement–and attachment to having their good opinion to the point that you water things down and never really invite them to give everything to God with complete amendment of their life. Keep the standard high–and make it crystal clear: then they choose whether or not to “drink of the chalice”. They probably won’t–and that clarity will keep you from wasting your time worrying or trying to be so tactful that you never act. Don’t consider yourself much of a “salesman” with regard to their “yes or no”, other than reminding them of the reality of their soul’s situation in this short life before facing God and entering eternity. Let grace do the converting of hearts.

-Make a clear plan of accountability. For example, have a list of resolutions laid our in an excel sheet you two electronically share. Include rise time, mental prayer, spiritual reading, the rosary, and a brief examination of conscience. Plan to talk for an hour exclusively dedicated to things relevant to accountability. Choose a book to walk through with each other (recommended: either the Baltimore Catechism if that hasn’t happened yet, or a basic book on Saint Teresa’s method of mental prayer like Conversation with Christ).

-I think for women in particular it is important not to let it become a time to simply state a bunch of your emotional problems, etc. Often times this can just be an affirmation of vanities. There is a place to “talk things through”. But this must be moderated and regulated appropriately, in the context of keeping strictly to a rule of life and a schedule to follow in one’s day (lest the talks go on for hours and become an idol).

-Of course, this is all said in prudence with the particular circumstance in mind. Women particularly can have strong/sharp reactions to subtle things, so knowing who you are talking with is very important.

Other Study/Resources

Most Highly Recommended:

-First, the Catechism and a book on the basics of prayer

-other important bases to cover: basics of the Mass, basic philosophy

-familiarize yourself with spiritual classics and find the particular attraction of grace to the spirituality of your liking

-The best philosophy is Thomism, as formally endorsed by the Church. It is critical to understand basic metaphysics on order to reason through higher realities–such as speculative theology. Feser’s book Introduction to Aquinas does this excellently.

-highly recommended authors/speakers today: Father Chad Ripperger, Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, Dr. Taylor Marshall

 

Getting started with philosophy (which is the bedrock of theology):

-Introduction to Aquinas by Edward Feser

-Realism by Father Garigou LaGrange

 

Theology:

-Theology for Beginners by Frank Sheed

-Theology and Sanity by Frank Sheed

-Providence by Father Garigou LaGrange

 

Spirituality:

-Introduction to the Devout Life by Saint Francis de Sales

-Imitation of Christ by Thomas Kempis

-The Secret of Mary by Saint Louis de Montfort

-Autobiography of Saint Teresa of Avila

-Autobiography of Saint Therese of Liseux

-Life of Saint Gerard Majella

-Confessions by Saint Augustine

 

General formation:

-The Breviary Explained by Pius Parsch

 

Websites, podcasts, youtube, and other:

-Sensus Fidelium

-Taylor Marshall

-Edward Feser

-OnePeterFive

-Church Militant Daily News Headlines

-First Things

-Patrick Coffin Show

 

Spiritual Theology:

-3 Ages of the Interior Life by Father Garigou LaGrange (Volumes 1 and 2)

-I Want to See God: a Practical Synthesis of Carmelite Spirituality by père Marie-Eugène

 

Moral Theology:

-Saint Thomas Aquinas

-Saint Alphonsus Ligouri

 

Audios:

-Venerable Fulton J. Sheen (YouTube)

-Sensus Fidelium channel (YouTube)

 

Psychology:

-Introduction to the Science of Mental Health by Father Chad Ripperger

 

Evangelization:

-The Soul of the Apostolate by Dom Chautard

-The Old Evangelization by Eric Sammons

 

The Mass:

-Nothing Superfluous by Father James Jackson

-this talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YfzhogC8xs

-Critique of the Novus Ordo Missae

 

Novels:

-Lord of the World by Robert Hugh Benson

-books by Michael O’Brien