Part 2 – Chapters 3 & 4 of the Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales
This is a Discerning Hearts recording read by Correy Webb
PART 2 – CHAPTER III. OF THE INVOCATION WHICH IS THE SECOND POINT OF THE PREPARATION
THE invocation is made in this manner: your soul having realized that she is in the presence of God, prostrates herself with profound reverence, acknowledging her unworthiness to appear before so sovereign a Majesty, and nevertheless, knowing that his goodness desires it she asks of him the grace to serve him well, and to adore him in this meditation. If you wish to do so, you may make use of some short and ardent words, such as these of David: Cast me not away, O God, from thy face, and take not the favor of thy Holy Spirit from me. Make thy face to shine upon thy servant,61 and I will consider thy wonders.
Give me understanding and I will search thy law, and I will keep it with my whole heart. I am thy servant, give me understanding; and other similar words. You would do well also to invoke your good Angel, and the holy persons who are concerned in the mystery upon which you are meditating: as in that of the death of our Lord, you may invoke our Lady, St John, St Mary Magdalen and the good thief, in order that the interior sentiments and movements which they received may be communicated to you: and in the meditation on your own death, you may ask your good Angel, who will be present at it, to inspire you with fitting considerations; and so also with other mysteries.
PART 2 – CHAPTER IV. OF THE SETTING FORTH OF THE MYSTERY, WHICH IS THE THIRD POINT OF THE PREPARATION
AFTER these two ordinary points of the meditation, there is a third which is not common to all sorts of meditations; it is that which is called by some the composition of place, and by others the interior lection. This is no other thing than to represent to the imagination the scene of the mystery upon which the meditation is made, as though it were actually taking place in our presence. For example, if you wish to meditate upon our Saviour on the cross, you will imagine yourself to be on mount Calvary, and that you see there all that was done and said on the day of the Passion; or, if you will (for it is all one), you will imagine that the crucifixion is taking place in the very spot where you are, in the way described by the Evangelists.
The same applies to meditations on death, as I have noted in the meditation on this subject, and also to that on hell, and to all similar mysteries which are concerned with things visible and perceptible to the senses; for as regards other mysteries, such as the greatness of God, the excellence of virtue, the end for which we are created, which are invisible things, there is no question of making use of this kind of imagination. It is true that we may very well employ some sort of similitude and comparison to help us in our consideration of such mysteries; but that is somewhat difficult to find, and I only wish to treat with you very simply, and in such a way that your mind may not be wearied with much seeking.
Now, by means of this imaginary scene we confine our spirit within the mystery upon which we intend to meditate, so that it may not range hither and thither, just as we confine a bird within a cage, or as we put jesses on a hawk so that it may remain upon the fist. Yet some will tell you that, in the representation of these mysteries, it is better to make use of the simple thought of faith, and of a simple apprehension entirely mental and spiritual, or else to consider that the things are done within your own spirit; but that is too subtle for a commencement, and until such time as God may raise you higher, I counsel you, Philothea, to remain in the low valley which I have shown you.
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