Advent with A Kempis XIX

Chapter 19: The Exercises of a Good Religious

“The life of a good religious must abound with every virtue so that he can inwardly be what he outwardly professes to be”

“Religious” here refers to the vocationally religious, mostly monks and nuns, but it leads me to ask…

What do I profess to be as a student of Christian Spirituality?

And what do I profess to be as someone discerning the priesthood?

“If a prescribed exercise is omitted because of a brother in need, or because we must perform some other charitable deed, the exercise may be fulfilled at a later time”

…or because we must complete final papers

“In the morning make your resolution, and in the evening examine your performance, checking how you conducted yourself during the day. Scrutinize your speech, your actions, and your thoughts, because by these means you may have offended God and your neighbor”

Ignatius of Loyola, who read a chapter from Imitation each day, offers an insight in one of his letters that provides a helpful balance to Kempis, especially for those how have a “delicate” conscience…

“When [the enemy] encounters a person who has a delicate conscience (no fault in itself) and sees that the person not only repulses mortal sins, and venial sins so far as he can (for they are not all in our power), but even tries to repel every semblance of slight sin, imperfection, or defect, then the enemy attempts to throw this excellent conscience into turmoil by charging sin where there is none and defect where there is perfection, so that he can confound and distress us. Often, when he cannot get a person to sin and has no prospect of doing so, he will at least try to torment the person.”[1]

“We should live from one feast to another, and make our resolutions as if on the following feast we were to leave this world for the eternal feast. Therefore, during these festival seasons we ought to prepare ourselves to live more devoutly, and to observe our rules more faithfully, as if we were soon to receive from God the reward of our labor.”

Gracious God, make our hearts and minds ready for the Christmas feast so that we may also be ready for the eternal feast….

“If that reward be deferred, then know that we are not sufficiently prepared and are still unworthy of that great glory which is to be revealed in us at the appointed time, and let us use what time we have to make better preparation for our departure.”

…and make us sufficiently prepared for that great glory which is to be revealed in us at the appointed time. Amen.

[1] George E. Ganss, S.J. Ignatius of Loyola Spiritual Exercises and Selected Works, (Mahwah, 1991), 336.


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