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On the Name of Jesus


Rama Coomaraswamy

Source: Studies in Comparative Religion, Vol. 10, No. 4 (Autumn, 1976). © World Wisdom, Inc.

Deus humilium celsitudo, qui beatissimum Joannem Columbinum, confessorem tuum tilectissimum, tantae charitatis in te ardore inflammasti, ut Jesu nomen desideratissimum tui in suo vivido corde et ore semper habere meruerit: concede quaesumus, ut ejus meretis et precibus ita in tuo nomine et amore incendamur, ut mente et corde te unice super omnia diligamus et promissa humilibus praemia consequamur. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum ...

From the Mass of Saint John Colombino

(Acta Sanctorum).

IN recent years there has been a revival of interest in the Prayer of the Name of Jesus. Various groups ranging from the Pentecostals to the "Jesus Freaks" have embraced this form of prayer without any foundation in its theology, and without the "protection" that a traditional and orthodox basis provides. The author of this paper makes no attempt to present a historical or scholarly text; rather he hopes to provide the reader with an outline or introduction that will place this form of prayer in its proper perspective.

It should be clear from the outset that in all he says, be it in the form of direct statement, or under the cover of quotation, he is in full submission to the teaching magesterium of the Catholic Church. Pray, gentle reader, that what I have presumed to write may not turn to my judgement and condemnation, but rather be a safeguard and healing remedy to my soul.

It is not my intention to cover in this article the Tradition of the Prayer of Jesus in the Orthodox Church. The reader is referred to The Way of the Pilgrim (Seabury Press, S.P.C.K.); Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart (Faber); On the Invocation of the Name of Jesus (Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius, London), and to On the Prayer of Jesus by Bishop I. Brianchaninov (Watkins), all of which are readily available. What I hope to show is that this form of prayer is deeply rooted in the Traditions of the Western Church and has been so from time immemorial. Even more, I hope to show that it is a prayer eminently suitable to contemporary man and the present times. The first thirteen paragraphs of this introduction will address themselves to this later issue. The remainder will deal with the subject matter of the prayer itself.

(1)  To speak of prayer as being "contemporary", apart from the fact that it is said at a given time, is almost a contradiction in terms—rather like the catch phrase "atheistic Christianity". The essence of prayer is as St. John Damascene and many other saints have said, to "elevate the soul to God." Now prayer is directed towards God, who while present in the "everlasting `now' " (Meister Eckhart's phrase), is neither ancient nor modern, but essentially eternal. Thus it is that St. Hilary of Poitiers says: "it is a pious saying that the Father is not limited by time," and the Council of Anerya states: "if anyone says that the Father is older in time than His Only-Begotten Son, and that the Son is younger than the Father, let him be anathema." To place the "heart" in a given time or place, a specific historical situation, is to imprison it in flux and to make it mutable, since it is its very nature (we used to say, thanks to habitual grace) to seek what is immutable; to escape "these mortal coils" of which time with its successive stimuli is a characteristic feature. As Saint Augustine says: God has created us for Himself and "our heart cannot be quieted until it finds repose in Him" (Confession, I). If prayer is communicating with the Father (cum-union), it is communicating with what is (ens), with the uncreated, and when effective, "lifts one out of time." Thus it is, as Eckhart says, that "the intellect's object and sustenance is essence, not accidental," and again, "the life that is, wherein a man is born God's son, born into the eternal life . . . is a-temporal, un-extended, without here and now.[1]

(2)  What is this "soul" that would partake of eternity? According to Catholic teaching "the soul is the spiritual part of man, by which he lives, understands, and is free; 'hence he is able to know, love and serve God" (Catechism of Pius X). Hence it follows that prayer that does not partake of knowledge and love—the former being of the intellect and the later of the will—is hardly prayer. St. Thomas Aquinas instructs us that "our intellect in understanding is extended to infinity," (Summa contra gent. 1-43); that "truth is the good of the intellect," (ibid, 1-79); and that "man's beatitude consists in the knowledge of God" (Quest. disput. de veritate, XX-3 ad 5). The very concept of enlightenment implies instantaneity. He also tells us that "love resides in the will" and that "the move­ments of the free-will are not successive, but instantaneous" (Summa. I-II, cxiii, 7). Thus it is that every "lover" knows his love to be eternal, be he an ancient Roman or a modern lethario. Every act of loving and of knowing is timeless, though its object may vary and even be temporal. However, in prayer, it is both the object and the act which is timeless, and hence it is as Rumi says in the Mathnawi, "the journey of the soul is unconditioned with respect to time and space."

(3)  The reality of the eternal present is bound up also with the action of the Holy Ghost, whose operation is immediate: "and suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind" (Acts, ii, 2). Moreover, God has loved us since eternity, and if we say that he loves us "now", we must again turn to St. Thomas (de Trin., I, 4) where he cites Boethius with approval as saying that "God is `ever' " (semper) because " `ever' is with Him a term of present time, and there is in this a great difference between the `now' which is our present, and (the `now' which is) the divine present; our now connotes changing time and sempiternity, while God's `now' abiding, unmoving, and self-subsistent, makes eternity."

(4)  Individual prayer (as opposed to canonical prayer) has as its aim, not only to obtain particular favours, but also the purification of the soul: it loosens psychological knots or, in other words, dissolves subconscious coagulations and drains away many secret poisons; it externalises before God the difficulties, failures and distortions of the soul, always supposing the prayer to be humble and genuine, and this externalisation—carried out in relation to the Absolute (another timeless word)—has the virtue (strength) of re-establishing equilibrium and restoring peace, in a word, of opening us up to grace.

(5)  The only contemporary problem in prayer is the inability of contemporary man to pray. A normal man prays, for if a man is not a metaphysical animal, he is only an animal. The mediaeval description of the Antichrist is one of a man whose knee-joints are formed "backwards", thus one who cannot kneel. If Christ's words have no meaning for modern man, this is because modern man is sick (an illness one might add primarily of the visual and auditory organs). It is not prayer, tradition and the Gospels that have lost their "relevance", but modern man who has become in his way of life irrelevant. Surely the cure of the disease is never to be achieved by the patient giving his physician the virus!

(6)  If one considers the nature of prayer, be it individual or canonical, it must contain the following elements. It is not enough for man to formulate his petition; he must also express his gratitude, resignation, regret, resolution and praise (Cassian, Conferences). In his petition, man is concerned to look for some favour, provided it is of a nature agreeable to God, and so the Universal Norm; thankfulness is the consciousness that every favour of destiny is a grace which might not have been given; and if it be true then man has always something to ask, it is just as true, to say the least, that he has always grounds for gratitude; without this, no prayer is possible. Resignation is the acceptance in advance of the non-fulfillment of some request; regret or contrition—the asking of pardon—implies consciousness of what puts us in opposition to the divine will; resolution is the desire to remedy transgression, for our weakness must not make us forget that we are free; finally, praise signifies not only that we relate every value to its ultimate source, but also that we see every trial in terms of its usefulness.

(7)  But none of the concepts in the preceding paragraph can be expressed in a completely contemporaneous manner. One may ask for a Cadillac instead of a chariot, but one still must ask with resignation, gratitude, regret, resolution and praise. Moreover, the very words that one is forced to use in all these categories are not new, but have existed from all time, for they are innate (in-natus) in the soul that raises its heart and mind to God. Sadly, much of the current liturgical prayer is just noise, precisely because it fails to incorporate in its expression these very attitudes that have been with man since his creation. To void prayer of its volitive and intellectual components is to reduce it to "feeling"; ("don't go to Church unless you feel like it," as some priests now openly say), and to make it subject to the sins of pride, ignorance and intellectual sloth, which as Hillaire Belloc clearly shows, are the characteristics of the "modern mind" (Survivals and New Arrivals).

(8)  Let us pray to God that we may be lifted out of time, and that our minds and hearts he raised to what is eternal and timeless. "Munda quoque cor nostram ab omnibus vans, perversis et alienis congitationibus; intellectum illumina, affectum inflama . . . in secula seculorum, Amen" ("Cleanse our hearts from all vanity, from all perverse and strange thoughts. Illuminate our intellect, inflame our will . . . for ever and ever, Amen"—taken from the traditional prayer said before reciting the office). In our life of prayer says St. John Climacus, "we should constantly be examining and comparing ourselves with the holy fathers and the lights who lived before us" (Ladder of Divine Ascent). Let us not invent new ways to pray lest "we bubble out foly" (Proverbs, xv, 2) and "inherit the winds" (Proverbs, xi, 28). Let us not, as Eusabius says, seek to "cut out for ourselves a new kind of tract in a pathless desert" (Preparation for the Gospels). Let us make our prayer partake of the eternal and seek not to conform ourselves to the present times—"nolite conformari huic saeculo" (St. Paul's words in Rom., xii, 2).

(9)  If we are not bound by time and contemporaneity (as the "modern-ist" is by definition), we are free to examine the writers who throughout all times have spoken to the issues under consideration. For while doctrine may be made more explicit (as for example, the Immaculate Conception), it cannot evolve. As St. John of the Cross said in the 16th century, "there are no more articles to be revealed to the Church about the substance of our faith" (Ascent of Mount Carmel). What is doctrine is true, and Truth cannot change. To believe that we can be better theologians than Saint Paul, or know more than the Church Fathers is one of the great fallacies of our age. One of two things must be accepted. Either there is theological progress, and that theology is not important, or theology is important, and then there is no theological progress (F. Schuon). Let us have the humility to say with Origen who, writing in the second century, stated "Paul understood what Moses wrote much better than we do . . ." (Prologue to his Commentary on the Song of Songs). Let us remember that as Augustine says, "the true and right Catholic faith" is culled "not from the opinions of private judgement, but from the witness of the scriptures; it is not subject to the fluctuations of heretical rashness, but grounded upon Apostolic truth" (Sermon xxxiv). In what follows as we return to the main theme of our introduction, let it be clear that "the object we have in view is not, in any way, to publish some favourite or clever method of our own" (Gueranger, Sermon on Advent), but rather to cull from the writings of the saints—from those men "whose words are an extension of the Word of God" (Pius X)—statements that can "enlighten our intellects and inflame our wills."

(10)  It would seem to be axiomatic that any teaching on the spiritual life must satisfy the needs of both the intellect and the will, or to phrase it in more traditional terms, must provide both a Doctrine and a Method. This "why" and "how" of our existence must be answered. On a more mundane level, before starting out on a journey, we must provide ourselves with both a directing map and a means of travelling. In the orient they tell the story of a blind and a lame man who set out for the "heavenly city." They could make no progress until they joined forces, the lame man climbing on the back of the blind one and directing his foot-steps. This marriage of forces reflects itself on a number of differing planes. We have both the Church and the soul pictured as the "Bride of Christ". We have, as Saint Thomas teaches, the will adhering with all its strength to the good that the intellect perceives. And finally, since as Saint Thomas teaches, "the will and the intellect must act reciprocally upon one another" (Summa. I xvi, 4), we have "joined in one flesh," Christ Himself who says "I am the Truth and the Way" (John xiv, 6).

(11)  Now the will is, as the Schoolmen were fond of saying, "essentially a blind faculty," it needs direction, formation and perfection. If Saint Paul could ask "Lord, what wilt thou have me do?" (Acts ix, 6), how much more must we pose the same question. As the Abbot Lehodey says, the spiritual life "requires our active co-operation, our personal exertions" to be effective (Holy Abandonment). As Saint Thomas teaches, "man is united with God through his will" (Summa. I-II, 87, 6). Now this will is blind and unruly; as Saint Paul said: "the things that I will, I do not," and must like a wild stallion, be bridled. Methodology can be likened to the reins. Thus it is that Saint Bridgit of Sweden asked Christ to assist her in "bridling" her will.[2]

(12)  To embark upon a method however, without a doctrinal basis, is like a horse whose reins are not in the hands of a capable rider; it is like attempting to cross unknown waters without a map, a course that is always possible, but one that usually results in ship-wreck. It is to deny the participation of the intellect in the spiritual life. It is to deny the role of revelation given us by the very source that we seek to discover. It is to cut off the infinite which, as Saint Thomas teaches, can only be comprehended by the intellect. On the practical level, Doctrine and Method, like the Intellect and the Will, can never be divorced. This is why in Buddhist symbolism Doctrine and Method are pictured as being in a tight conjugal embrace.

(13)  All this is not to deny the role of grace which both initiates the spiritual pilgrimage and sustains it through its many stormy difficulties, but rather to stress that we must prepare ourselves to accept the graces that God always desires to pour forth. To argue that the "Holy Spirit bloweth where it will" in no way obviates what we have said, for we must admit that it is within our power to turn away from the light—the light which shines forth from the Paraclete. Grace, as the saints teach, "does not replace nature, but rather perfects it." Thus as Eckhart teaches: "God is bound to act, to pour Himself out into thee, as soon as ever He shall find thee ready."

(14)  The invocation of the Name of Jesus fulfills all these pre-requisites to a remarkable degree. It is both a Doctrine and a Method, and is simultaneously a most efficacious channel for the outpouring of grace. No wonder then that as Father Schwertner says in his paper on "Devotion to the Adorable Name of Jesus," "there is no devotion to our Lord—except to the Blessed Sacrament Itself—that has better Scriptural guarantees, none more rigidly dogmatic, none richer in its patristic sanctions and supports" (Holy Name Society Publication).

(15)  "And the Word was made flesh" (John i, 14). These words can be most aptly applied to the Name which is as it were, the auditory aspect or manifestation of the divine essence. Indeed, Saint Bernadine of Sienna teaches us this in his sermon on "The Glorious Name of Jesus Christ," and the Apostle John witnesses to this in the Apocalypse saying "His Name is called the Word of God" (xix, 13). Jesus Himself says "I have manifested Thy Name to the men whom Thou hast given me . . . because the words which Thou hast given me, I have given to them" (John xvii, 6). Origin tells us in his Commentary on the Canticle of Canticles that "God emptied Himself, that His Name might be as ointment emptied out, that He might no longer dwell in light unapproachable and abide in the form of God, but that the Word might be made flesh."

(16)  Let there be no confusion as to what Name is meant. He is given a "Name which is above all names." It is a Name "above all principality, and power and virtue, and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this world, but in that which is to come." Now this is not only to imply that Jesus is a more appropriate Name for God than any other—though such it is, but also to instruct us that this Name signifies the "entire economy of the Incarnation and the Redemption . . . the Wisdom, the Power, the Goodness, the Majesty and all the attributes of God" (Augustine). As Father Thomas of Jesus says: "Isaias called Him by the names of Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace, and many other things, all of which are encompassed in the Name of Jesus of which these others are only explanations" (Sufferings of Jesus Christ). Saint Thomas of Aquinas tells us that "we cannot name an object except as we understand it, we cannot give names to God except in terms of perfections perceived in other things that have their origin in Him" (Compendium). However, He is "named the Word of God" (Apoc. xix, 13) and Saint Thomas also tells us that "the unique Word of God expresses as it were in a single instant, all that is in God" (de diff. divini Verbi et humani). Dionysius the Areopagite says that many names are attributed to God in a "symbolic revelation of His beneficient emanations" and lists the perfusion of these including "Truth," "Wisdom," "Word," "Ancient of Days,'' "Sun," "Breeze," but above all he says, this secret Name is now made manifest in "that Name which is above all names." Thus it follows that the Name of Jesus is a revealed Name, a Name existant in the mind and bosom of the Father before all time, a Name of Power, a "Marvellous Name" as David the psalmist says, and an "inexplicable Name" as Saint Thomas says in his commentary on the Our Father. Saint Bernadine of Sienna says "the Name of Jesus is itself God through which God the Father and the Holy Spirit communicate in the Divine Unity" (Sermon on the Name). Both Jeremias and Amos clearly state "Dominus nomen eius—the Lord is His Name" (Jen xxxiii, 2; Amos, ix, 6). Thus Cornelius Lapide in his commentary on Paul's letter to the Philippians says that "Nomen ergo Dei, est ipse Deus et divinitas —indeed the Name of God is itself God and divine." More recently Father Prat S.J. has said in his Life of Christ that "in Holy Scripture the `Name' of God is God Himself, made manifest to man in the voice of creation, revealed to Christians through the instrumentality of Christ." And so, "The Word was made flesh."

(17)  "And it came to pass . . . and she brought forth her firstborn son and His Name was called Jesus, that given Him by the angel before He was conceived in the womb" (Luke ii). Saint Athanasius says "the Word was made manifest" in creation, and goes on to say that "the renewal of creation has been wrought by the self-same Word who made it in the beginning" (De Incarnatione Verbi Dei). Now, "in the beginning" does not imply an origin in time, but an origin in the First Principle, and from this the logical deduction follows that God (the Eternal) is creating the world now, as much as he ever was. Thus Eckhart says "God's beginning is primary, not proceeding" and again, "the eternal Word is being born within the soul, its very self, no less, unceasingly." He says further, quot­ing St. Augustine, that "this birth is always happening. But if it happens not in me, what does it profit me?" And if this happens in the fullness of time, we must remember that "time is fulfilled when it is finished, that is in eternity . . . here there is no before nor after; everything is present . . . May we attain to this fullness of time so help us God" (Eckhart again).

But this birth can only "be consummated in the virtuous soul; for it is in the perfect soul that God speaks His Word" (Eckhart). He goes on further and says, "It is more worth to God His being brought forth ghostly in the individual virgin or good soul than that He be born of Mary bodily," for "God created the soul according to His own most perfect nature that she might be bride of His only-Begotten Son . . . so lifting up the tent of His eternal glory, the Son proceeded out of the Most High to go and fetch His Lady whom His Father had eternally given to Him to wife and restore her to her former high estate." Thus it is that our Co-redemptrix is at one and the same time His Mother, His Daughter, and His Bride, crowned in heaven as His Queen. And all this is possible for us! This is why Saint Bonaventura says: "O devout soul, if you rejoice in the happy birth, remember that first you must be Mary" (Opuscula II). This is why Angelus Silesius says: "I must be Mary and give birth to God" (Cherubinic Wanderer). This is why Saint Louis de Montfort says: "the more the Holy Spirit . . . finds Mary, His dear and inseparable spouse in any soul, the more active and mighty He becomes in producing Jesus Christ in that soul," and again, "God the Father wishes to have children by Mary till the consummation of the world" (True Devotion to Mary). Thus Our Lady embodies in her all those virtues in their plenitude that we must make our own, if like her we are also to be Christ-bearers. Like her, we must be able to say "Be it done unto me according to Thy Word" (Magnificat). For, as Eckhart says, when "the Father speaks the Word into the soul, and when the `son' is born, the soul becomes Mary."

Let the soul of Mary be in each of us to magnify the Lord
Let the spirit of Mary be in each of us to rejoice in God.

Prayer of Saint Ambrose.

(19)  Now the "Bride of Christ is a virgin." This is most strange, for as Theophylact says after Chrysostom: "brides do not remain virgins after marriage. But Christ's brides, as before marriage they were not virgins, so after marriage they become virgins, most pure in faith, whole, and uncorrupt in life" (quoted by Cornelius Lapide). "The soul's virginity" says Augustine, "consists in perfect faith, well-grounded hope and unfeigned love" (Tract. xiii on John). It is pertinent that the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus is established on the second Sunday after Epiphany which recalls the Marriage Feast of Cana. This is because "it is on the wedding day that the Bridegroom gives His Name to the bride, and it is a sign that, from that day forward, she belongs to Him alone" (Gueranger, Liturgical Year). As Cornelius Lapide says: "those whose souls are on fire with charity, and who are ever exercising themselves in it, enjoy the bliss of betrothal to God and the possession of His nuptial gifts of divine joys. For charity is a marriage-union, the welding of two wills, the Divine and the human, into one, whereby God and man mutually agree in all things." May we then "be virginized" as Saint Therese of Lisieux says in a letter to Celine, so that we might become pregnant. "I am not chaste unless Thou ravish me" (John Donne).

…Of pure Virgins none
                    Is fairer seen,
Save one
          Than Mary Magdalene.
                              John Cordelier.

(20)  Do not ask whether the soul must be virginal before it can become pregnant with the Divine Word, nor yet again pose the question if it is possible for the soul to be virginal unless it is so impregnated. This is the same question that Augustine posed in his Confessions: "Which ought to be first, to know thee or to call upon thee?" This is to ask as to which partner is more active in the conjugal embrace. The answer is simple, for all this happens in the fullness of time which has been discussed above. But what has all this to do with the invocation of the Name? Saint Ephrem gives us the answer. "Jesus, Thou glorious Name, Thou hidden bridge that carrieth over from death to life, at Thee have I arrived and stand still! . . . Be a bridge to my speech that I may pass over to Thy truth" (Rhythm vi).

(21)  There is not much trouble in believing that a man called Jesus was born two thousand years ago. We can assume that anyone who is Catholic will accept this as God Incarnate. There is much greater difficulty in believing in the transubstantiation (the word is not even used by current theologians), but this is also an "In-carnation". I suspect that the current disbelief in the transubstantiation, and in the power of the Name of Jesus, is no different than the disbelief of Christ's contemporaries in His Messiaship. The perfidy of the Jews did not lie in their racial origins (for were not almost all of the early Christians of the "chosen race"?) but in their disbelief. Similarly, almost no one believes in the final coming (except perhaps in some sort of vague "Omega" tied to the concept of the evolutionary perfecting of man), for to do so is to fear, and the "fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Those who think that fear is out of style would do well to know that St. Francis prayed in his dying blessing for this gift to be given to his brothers.

(22)  The Mass recapitulates all this for it is the ever-recurring eternal sacrifice in which He is made flesh repeatedly and in every moment of the day somewhere in the world. When Saint Hugh of Lincoln used to raise the Eucharist, he was seen to hold the baby Jesus in his hands, an experience repeated in many saints' lives, including that of Pere Lame in France in the present century. The Name also "In-carnates" as it were, the Divine Presence in the soul of the person who invokes, and thus we have many saints such as Saint John Capistrano who would go into ecstasy (and levitation) on simply hearing the Name of Jesus pronounced.

(23)  The relationship between the Name and the Eucharist is further implied in Scripture, for just as the Eucharist represents "the unbloody sacrifice of the cross," so also the Name is as it were, "the unbloody sacrifice of the Circumcision." Saint Bernard tells us in Thy Mystical Vine that "we read about the first effusion of the blood of Christ at the time of His Circumcision, when our Lord Jesus Christ received the Name of Jesus, a mystery that already indicated that by His pouring forth of His blood, He would become for us a veritable Jesus, a Saviour." Further testimony to this is given us by the Blessed Mary of Agreda, who in her visions say the Angels Michael and Gabriel instructing our Lady prior to the rite of Circumcision, saying: "Lady, this is the Name of thy Son, which is written in the mind of God from all eternity and which the blessed Trinity has given to thy Only-Begotten Son and our Lord as the signal of salvation for the whole human race; establishing Him at the same time on the throne of David. He shall reign upon it, chastise His enemies and triumph over them, making them his footstool and passing judgement upon them; He shall raise His friends to the Glory of His right hand. But all this is to happen at the cost of suffering and blood, and even now He is to shed it in receiving this Name, since it is that of Saviour and Redeemer; it shall be the beginning of His sufferings in obedience to the will of the Eternal Father" (City of God). Thus He who is "named the Word of God" wears "a garment sprinkled with blood" (Apoc. xix). And we must also be "sprinkled with the blood of the Lamb" if we are to be included among the "one hundred and forty-four thousand having His Name and the Name of His Father written on their foreheads" (Apoc. xiv). This is why Saint Bernard instructs us in the Book of Sentences that "there are three circumcisions, that of the flesh among the Jews, that of the heart as among the Christians, and that of the tongue in the perfect." "That of the tongue among the perfect" reminds us that Isaiah only announced the Virginal birth and the coming of the Messiah after his lips had been touched by the burning coal. It also brings to mind the statement of Saint Thomas of Villenova to the effect that "in heaven one always repeats, always invokes and always honors the Name of Jesus . . . in heaven one knows all the truth and all the strength of this Name" (Sermon for the Feast of the Circumcision). No wonder then that Saint Bernadine of Sienna felt that the vision of Saint Paul "in the third heaven" was of the Name in glory. Thus it is that an eastern saint has said: "The lights of some people precede their invocations, while the invocations of some people precede their lights. There is the invoker who invokes so that his heart may be illuminated, and there is the invoker whose heart has been illuminated and therefore he invokes" (Ibn `Ata'illah).

(24)  Saint Bernard instructs us in his fifth sermon for the season of Advent regarding the Incarnation that:

In the first coming, He comes in the flesh and in weakness; in the second, He comes in spirit and in power; in the third, He comes in glory and in majesty; and the second coming is the means whereby we pass from the first to the third.

The Venerable Peter of Blois says:

We are now in the second coming, provided that we are such that He may come to us; For He has said that if we love Him, He will come into us and take up His abode with us. This second coming is full of uncertainty for us. (Sermon on Advent).

The Abbe Gueranger (so highly recommended as a spiritual writer by Saint Therese of Lisieux) says:

We must remember that, since we can be pleasing to our heavenly Father only inasmuch as He sees within us His Son, Jesus Christ, this amiable Saviour deigns to come into each one of us, and transform us, if we will but consent unto Himself, so that henceforth we may live, not we, but He in us. This in reality is the one grand aim of the Christian religion, to make men divine through Jesus Christ: It is the task which God has given to His Church to do, and why she says to the faithful what St. Peter said to his Galatians: `My little children, of whom I am in labour again, until Christ be born within you'. (Sermon on Advent).

John of Ruysbroeck says:

The second coming of Christ our Bridegroom takes place every day within good men; often and many times, with new graces and gifts, in all those who make themselves ready for it, each according to his power. (Adornment of Spiritual Marriage).

Saint Louis de Montfort says:

God the Son wishes to form Himself and so to speak incarnate Himself in His members every day. (True Devotion to Mary).

Finally Angelus Silesius says:

It is in you that God should be born, for if Christ were to be born a thousand times in Bethlehem, and not be born in you, you would be lost forever. (Cherubinic Wanderer).

(25)  Certainly one can call the invocation of the Name the "Prayer of the Incarnation" for the "Word made flesh" is in a most singular manner manifest in this Name. "In the Name of Jesus all (creation) bows down, in heaven, on earth, and in hell" (Phil. ii, 10). "Let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His Name" (Heb. xiii, 15). "Let the desire of our souls be Thy Name and the remembrance of Thee" (Isaiah xxvi, 8), and so "let us rise up and walk in the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth" (Acts, iii 6), that "believing we might have life through His Name" (John, xx, 31). Are we not told that "if we ask the Father anything in His Name, He will give it to us" (John, xiv, 14)? "Let us praise His great and terrible Name, and give glory to Him with the voice of our lips, and with canticles in our mouths, and with harps" (Eccles. xxix, 20). For His Name is "as oil poured forth" (Cant. i, 3), and "where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them" (Math. xviii, 20). And who are the "two or three"? They are, according to Saint Catherine of Sienna (Dialogues) and Saint John of the Cross (Ascent of Mount Carmel), the "intelligence, the will and the memory."

(26)  In the Old Testament we are told that if the Divine Name is invoked upon a country or person, it belongs henceforth to God; it becomes strictly His and enters into intimate relations with Him (Gen. xlviii, 16; Dt. xxviii, 10; Am. ix, 12). Thus it is that in the office of Compline we say every night "Tu autem in nobis es, Domine, et Nomen sanctum tuum invocatum est super nos ..." ("You indeed are in us O Lord, and your Holy Name is invoked over us ..."). In Genesis (iv, 26) we read: "and to Seth, in turn, a son was born and he named him Enoch. It was then that men began to invoke the Lord by Name" (Jewish Publication Soc. Trans.), "and Enoch walked with God!" "Moses and Aaron invoked the Name of the Lord" (Psalms). Aggeus the prophet spoke "in the Name of the Lord" and Job "blessed His Holy Name." Abraham "called upon the Name" as did Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and Jeremias. Micheas and Zacharius "walked up and down in His Name." As James the Apostle said, "all the prophets have spoken in the Name of the Lord" (Epis. v, 10). And is not all this most reasonable, for as David the Psalmist sings, "Bonum est celebrare Domine, et psallere Nomini tuo Altissime—for it is good to celebrate, O Lord, and to sing your Name, O most high."

(27)  New Testament theology is based primarily on the writings of Saint Paul who literally mentions the Name of Jesus hundreds of times. And this is most appropriate for Christ Himself said of Paul "you are a vessel of election to carry My Name" (Acts, ix, 15). And he it was who taught us to "do all whatsoever you do in word or in work, do all in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ" (Col. iii, 17). It was he who said "there is no other Name under heaven given men whereby we might be saved" (Acts, iv, 2). And again, it was he who said that "whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved" (Rom. x, 13). Now this last promise reiterates what "the word of the Lord" spoke through the mouth of the prophet Joel (Joel, ii, 32) and is again confirmed by Christ Himself when He says "if you ask the Father anything in my Name, He will give it you" (John, xvi, 24). It is not surprising then, that, as St. Thomas Aquinas informs us, "St. Paul bore the Name of Jesus on his forehead because he glorified in proclaiming it to all men, he bore it on his lips because he loved to invoke it, on his hands for he loved to write it, in his heart, for his heart burned with love of it" (cited in The Wonders of the Holy Name). St. Paul not only lived with this sacred Name on his lips and in his heart; he also died repeating with his parting breath the Name JESUS, JESUS, JESUS.

(28)  Now, in the early Church, it was not necessary to organize devotion to the adorable Name of Jesus in a systemic way, for it was an age when, as St. Jerome says, "the blood of Christ was still warm in the hearts of the faithful." That it was in common use is well demonstrated by the fact that so many of the martyrs died invoking the Name of Jesus in the face of horrendous tortures (Gesta Martyrum). Its use by the desert fathers is well known; its inclusion in the prefaces and other liturgical formulas of the early centuries is well documented. The ancient ecclesiastical writers such as St. Justin, Tertullian, Origen, St. Cyprian and St. Clement of Rome take every opportunity to praise it in the most glowing terms.

(29)  St. Ingatius of Antioch who succeeded St. Peter to this see went to his martyrdom invoking the Divine Name and the letters JESUS were found inscribed in letters of gold upon his heart when he died. This so impressed St. Ignatius of Loyola that he changed his name from Inigo to Ignatius (Father Laturia's Biography). Similar statements are made about St. Camillus de Lellis and the Blessed Suso. Hermes the Shepherd (circa 150 A.D.) says: "to receive the Name of the Son of God is to escape death and give way to life," He says "no one can enter the Kingdom of God except through the Name of the Son." He goes further and says "the Name of the Son of God is great and immense, and this is what supports the entire world" (Pasteur, Book III). Origen (circa 215) says "the Name of Jesus calms troubled souls, puts devils to flight, cures the sick; its use infuses a kind of wonderful sweetness; it assures purity of morals; it inspires kindness, generosity, mildness . . ." (Contra Celsum, Book I). Saint Ambrose (circa 370) greatly loved the Name and felt that while it was contained in Israel like a perfume in a closed vessel, the New Covenant was a vessel opened from which it poured forth ex abundantia superfluit quidquid efunditur—poured forth from its abundance almost like a flood (de Spiritu Sancto, I, 8). Saint Paulinus of Nola (354-431) referred to it as "a living ambrosia ... if one tasted it just once, one would not be able to be separated from it . . . it is for the eyes a serene light, for the ears the very sound of life" (Carmina iv). St. John Chrysostom (circa 370) instructs us to "thus abide constantly with the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, so that the heart swallows the Lord and the Lord the heart, and the two become one." Saint Augustine says of this Name that it is "quod est nobis amicus et dulcius nominare—it is so pleasant and sweet to pronounce" (City of God). Saint John Climacus (sixth century) tells us to "strike our adversaries with the Name of Jesus, there being no weapon more powerful on earth or in heaven" (Ladder of Divine Ascent). Saint Patrick advocated the use of the prayer of Jesus as is reported in the Golden Legend—and this in the exact Hesychast form: "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner." St. Thomas Aquinas, as seen in the preceding paragraph, speaks of St. Paul's use of the invocation of the Name. The Council of Lyons in 1274 resulted in Gregory X writing a letter to John of Vercelli, the then ruling Master General of the Dominicans, stating "we have enjoined on the faithful . . . to revere in a particular manner that Name which is above all names . . ." This act resulted in the founding of the Holy Name Society—an organization that continues to exist in a somewhat diluted form down to present times.

(30)  As we come to mediaeval times, we find an even greater perfusion of devotion to the Name. Thus it was that the Name of Jesus was in the mouth of Saint Francis "like honey and the honey-comb" (Thomas of Celano, biography); and St. Francis himself wrote "no man is worthy to speak Thy Name" (praises composed when the Lord assured him of His Kingdom). Saint Bernard wrote whole sermons on the Name and said "Jesus is honey in the mouth, melody in the ear, a song of delight in the heart" (Comm., Song of Songs). Saint Bonaventure cries out "O soul, whether you write, read, teach, or do anything else, may nothing have any taste for you, may nothing please you besides the Name of Jesus (Opuscula). Richard Rolle says "O good Jesus, Thou hast bound my heart in the thought of Thy Name, and now I cannot but sing it: therefore have mercy upon me, making perfect that which Thou hast ordained" (Fire of Love). Angelus Silesius says "the sweet Name of Jesus is honey on the tongue: to the ear a nuptial chant, in the heart a leap of joy" (Wandering Pilgrim). Meister Eckhart says that "believing in the Name of God, we are God's sons." Richard of Saint Victor says that "the invocation of the Name is the possession of salvation, the receiving of kisses, the communion of the bed, the union of the Word with the soul in which every man is saved. For with such light no one can be blind, with such power no one can be weak, with such salvation none can perish" (Selected Writings). Thomas a Kempis instructs us that "as you travel on this earthly pilgrimage, take for yourself as a provision (viaticum), like a shepherd's staff held firmly in the hand, this short prayer, "JESUS-MARIA" . . . where-ever you go, wherever you walk or stand or rest, invoke Jesus and Invoke Mary" (Valley of the Lillies). The Name of MARY is also "divine" and hence it is that Dante is led to write in the Paradiso:

There is the Rose wherein the Word divine made Itself flesh…
The Name of the beauteous flower which I ever invoke, morning and evening…

(31)  The Angelic Greeting embodies in it the Name of Jesus as a "pearl of great price." It is of interest that the Rosary only came into common use in the Church in its present form after Pope Urban ordered that "the adorable Name of Jesus" be added to the salutation in the year 1262. Both Saint Gertrude and the Blessed Jane of France were assured by Our Lady that this was her favourite prayer. Thomas a Kempis states that whenever he said the "Hail Mary"—"Heaven rejoices, the earth wonders, the devil shudders, hell trembles, sadness disappears, joy returns, the heart smiles in charity and is penetrated with a holy fervor, compunction is awak­ened and hope is revived." Now the Angelic Greeting invokes the "Glorious Name of MARY" also, which Name can be called upon in isolation or in conjunction with other liturgical formulae. Mary's Name is also divine for she is the purity, the beauty, the goodness and the humility of God manifested on the human plane. She exemplifies all the qualities of the soul in a state of baptismal grace which is why Saint Louis de Montfort says: "in seeing her, we see our pure nature" (True Devotion to Mary). The blessing of the Virgin is on him who purifies his soul for God, for this purity of the Marial state is the essential condition for the spiritual actualiza­tion of the real Presence of the Word. By greeting the Blessed Virgin, the soul conforms itself to her perfections while at one and the same time imploring the help of Mary who personifies these perfections. The Name of Mary reverberates with the same power and beauty as that of her Son's, the Son to whom she is simultaneously mother, bride and daughter. Thus the saints have invoked her Name and said of it all they have said of Jesus'. Saint Anthony of Padua invoked her Name constantly. Henry Suso said of it: "O sweet Name! what must thou be in heaven, when thy Name is so love-inspiring on earth!" The Abbot Franconus said that next to the Holy Name of Jesus, the Name of Mary is so rich in grace and sweetness that neither in heaven, nor on earth, is there any other Name that so fills the soul of man with grace, hope and sweetness." Saint Anselm says: "The most sweet Name of Mary is a precious ointment which breathes forth the odour of divine grace; let this ointment of salvation enter the inmost recesses of our souls." Saint Alphonsus Liguori sang forth: "Gladly shall my lips repeat, every moment, thy dear Name" (Glories of Mary). To invoke the Name of Mary is to invoke the Marian virtues so well summarized in the Magnificat—virtues that make the soul receptive to the Christic virtues. He who says Jesus, says God, and equally, he who says Mary, says Jesus.

(32)  The Ave Maria is well called the Angelic Greeting, as it embodies the entire economy of the spiritual life within its confines. It embraces within a single breath both the Divine Names of Jesus and Mary, and as it were summarizes all that has been said above and a great deal more. The Name of Jesus resides in the virginal womb, a womb that has been called by the saints both a "furnace" and a "bridal chamber". Truly He is "the Jewel in the Lotus."[3] For those who would slight the Rosary, the words of Our Lady to the Blessed Alan de la Roche (quoted in Saint Louis de Montfort's True Devotion to Mary) should act as a most powerful deterrent. "Know my son" she said, "and make all others know that it is a probable and proximate sign of eternal damnation to have an aversion, a lukewarmness, or a negligence in saying the Angelic Salutation which has reformed the whole world." To consider this a pious exaggeration is to hide one's disbelief under a cloak of hypocrisy and to quote Pius XI, "to wander from the path of truth" (Encyclical "Ingravescentibus Malis").

(33)  One must ask why saints like the Blessed Suso, Saint Camillus de Lellis, Saint Jogues, the Jesuit martyred by the Hurons, Saint Joan of Arc, Saint Louis de Montfort, Thomas a Kempis, Saint Francis de Sales, and in our own times, Sister Consolata Betrone and Father Pio the Stigmatist, to mention only a few and to say nothing of the entire Hesychast tradition on Mount Athos down to the present day, are so devoted to the Invocation of the Name of Jesus.[4] Part of the answer lies in the fact that only man, being made in the "Image of God" in a direct and integral manner, has the gift of speech. This being so, speech as well as intelligence and will must play a part in salvation and deliverance. Indeed, both Intelligence and will are actualized by prayer which is speech, both divine and human, the act relating to the will and its content to intelligence. Speech is as it were, the immaterial though sensory body of our will and of our understanding. But speech is not necessarily exteriorized, for articulated thought also involves language. Now if this is so, apart from the canonical prayers imposed on the Universal Church, nothing can be more important than the repetition of the Name of God. Eckhart says "God is the Word which pronounces Itself. Where God exists, He is saying this Word; where He does not exist, He says nothing. God is spoken and unspoken . . . Father and Son expire their holy breath, and once this sacred breath inspires a man, it remains in him, for he is essential and pneumatic." "For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of thoughts and intents of the heart" (Heb. iv, 12). Does not Joel in the Old Testament assure us as did Paul that "whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be delivered" (Joel, ii, 32)? We have already seen that the Prophets and the saints consider the Name to be one with God; that the saints in heaven, as St. Thomas of Villenova says, invoke it constantly, and now Eckhart tells us that "the eternal Word is spoken in the virgin soul by God Himself." Thus the invocation of the Name in the heart incarnates into us the fullness of the Trinity in so far as we can bear it. It slowly transforms us till at last, through the grace of God, we and the Name become as one. If part of the mystery of the Incarnation resides in the statement of Saint Iraneus (and many others) that "God became man that man might become God", surely we can say that God gave us His Name that we might incorporate it into our hearts, and with our memory, intelligence and will absorbed in the Name be able to say with the Blessed Angela of Foligno: "Thou art I and I am Thou" (Visions and Instructions); and with Saint Paul: "I live, not I, but Christ in me" (Gal. ii, 20).

(34)  Now God in naming Himself, firstly determined Himself as being and secondly starting from Being manifests Himself as Creation—that is to say that He manifests Himself `within the framework of nothing' or `outside Himself' and so `in illusory mode'. Man for his part describes the inverse movement when he pronounces the same Name, for this Name is not only Being and Creation, but also Mercy and Redemption. In man, it does not create, but on the contrary `undoes', and that in a divine manner, since it brings man back to the Principle. If God "pours Himself out in His Name" (St. Bernard), man in invoking this Name reaches the "fullness of plenitude". As seen by God, the Divine Name is a determination, a limitation and a `sacrifice'. As seen by man, it is a liberation, limitlessness and plenitude. The Name, when invoked by man, is none the less always pronounced by God, for human invocation is only the `external' effect of eternal and `internal' invocation by the Divinity. What is sacrificial for the divine is liberating for man. All revelation, whatsoever may be its mode or form, is a `descent' or `incarnation' for the Creator, and an `ascent' or `ex-carnation' for the creature.

(36)  Saint Thomas a Kempis says that "just as when the devout communicate, or when the priest celebrates Mass with devotion and reverence, so also when a person blesses Jesus and his Mother by calling on their Names, do they partake of the sacred bread and wine" (Valley of the Lillies). The relationship between the Eucharist and the Name is indeed close. Thus in the old liturgy we used to say "Panem celestam accipiam et nomen domini invocabo," and "Calicem salutaris accipiam et nomen domini invocabo."[5] Indeed, one can say that the invocation of the Name has the same relationship to other forms of prayer that the Eucharist has to the other sacraments. Thus it was that Saint Bernadine of Sienna gave to his cypher of the Name of Jesus the form of a monstrance; the divine Name carried in thought and in the heart through the world and through life, is like the Holy Eucharist carried in procession. Thus Meister Eckhart says the following of the Name and could have said the same thing of the Blessed Sacrament: "The Father neither sees, nor hears, nor speaks, nor wishes anything but His own Name. It is by means of His Name that the Father sees, hears and manifests Himself. The Father gives thee His eternal Name, and it is His own life, His being and His divinity that He gives thee in one single instant by His Name" (Comm. on St. John). Similarly, what Saint Eymard says of the Holy Eucharist could well be said of the Name: "The Eucharist is the Kingdom of God on earth. My body becomes Its temple, my heart Its throne, my will Its happy and humble servant, my life Its victory" (Eucharistic Retreats).

(37)  It is no wonder then that Saint John Eudes used to pray to the Blessed Virgin saying "let me die with these divine words in my heart and on my lips—JESUS-MARIA; and let me pronounce them in union with all the love which ever has been, is now and ever shall be in all hearts which love Jesus and Mary" (Life). It is no wonder then that so many saints have, like St. Vincent de Paul, Father Pio and Saint Francis Xavier, died with the Name of Jesus on their lips. Holy Mother Church teaches us that, even in the absence of a priest, should we die with the Name of Jesus on our lips, said with love and true contrition, our salvation is guaranteed.[6]  Every time we invoke the Name of Jesus we make an act of Faith, Hope and Charity. As St. Bonaventure says, the Name is "full of Grace, for in it faith is founded, hope confirmed, love increased and justice brought to perfection" (Opuscula). It is not an accident that the principle prayers of the Church advocate this form of prayer. The first petition of the Our Father asks "Hallowed be Thy Name"—that is, as St. Thomas Aquinas says, "to manifest and make His Name known among us (Comm. on the Pater Noster). The soul in a state of grace answers in the words of the Magnificat "Holy is His Name"; and the faithful cry out in their loving prayer: Hail Mary, full of grace, blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, JESUS." It is impossible to say the Names of Jesus and Mary without the soul assuming an attitude that is at once resigned, regretful, resolved and full of praise. And if we invoke the Name worthily, it will come to pass that our hearts will be His Kingdom, that our will will slowly be transformed into His will; it will be for us a constant nourishment (as Saint Bernard says); it will cancel debts to both God and man ("the King came forth to us, Who blotted out our bills, and wrote another bill in His own Name that He might be our debtor"—St. Ephrem, Rhythm IV); and finally, it will be for us a protection against temptation, for "the demons fly at the sound of this Name". No wonder then that Saint Bonaventure said "O how fruitful and blessed is this Name endowed with so great a power and efficiency!" (Opuscula).

(38)  In the Old Testament we are instructed "Let nothing hinder you from praying always" (Sirach xviii, 22), and in the New Testament Saint Luke tells us "keep watch, praying at all times" (Luke xxi, 36). Now this evangelical council can he fulfilled in many ways according to the manner in which the soul is called by God, for as Christ says, "1 have chosen you"—it is always God who calls us, and not we who call Him. For those who are called to invoke the Name, no form of prayer is more simple, more direct and more suitable to the present times than this. We read in Zacharias (xiii, 8 and 9):

two parts in all the earth shall be scattered, and I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined: and I will try them as gold is tried. They shall call on my Name and I will hear them. I will say `thou art my people': and they shall say `the Lord is my God'.

Now this passage is part of the prophecy pertaining to the "last times". And who are the third part that are brought through fire? They are, according to Cornelius Lapide, that portion of mankind that remains faithful to God and invokes His Name.

(39)  For those whose vocation (vocare—to call) is to invoke the Name, every necessary act, be it professional or social, is an aspect of this invocation. God wishes us to call upon Him not only with our tongues, but with our entire body—with every member—and with all our being; indeed with our total life and our very existence. If God wishes us to invoke His Name, or rather, wishes to invoke His Name in us, than every necessary act—reflecting as it does a conforming on our part to His will for us, becomes by its very nature an invoking of the Supreme Principle. The invocation is a form of "recollection", a way of practicing and of "remembering" the "Presence of God" (Brother Lawrence)…And if God invokes His Name in us, our allowing the faculties of our soul to con-form to this Divine Presence in us is precisely what transforms us—both our nature and our actions—into a "Manifestation" of the Divine Name. That which formerly was central to our lives—our attachment to the ego and the world—no longer exists. That which formerly was hardly a reality for us—the Divine Presence—now becomes the only reality. The "remembrance of God" is at the same time a "forgetting of self", for the ego is the seat of pride and a crystalization of the forgetfulness of God. In the invocation the ego as it were no longer exists, for the Name has "absorbed" it into its own reality, into its own purity, absoluteness and essence. As Christ said to Sister Consolate Betrone: "Sanctity consists in the forgetting of yourself, in your thoughts, your acts, your words, indeed in all things" (La Toute Petite Voie d'Amour). As Christ said to Saint Catherine of Sienna: "You are she who is not, whereas I am HE WHO IS" (Life, Blessed Raymond of Capua). In the same way, the person who invokes the Divine Name will arrive at a point where he can say "I (ego) do not exist, only the Name exists, for He and His Name are One".

(40)  The invoking of the Name is not per se a mechanical guarantee of salvation, for not everyone "who calls Lord, Lord will be saved." A donkey carrying perfume on his back will still remain a donkey, though even then it is still possible that some of the scent will rub off on him. The Divine Names are not immune from misuse or even profanation. A spiritual means can only be effective within the framework of the tradition that offers it. "Thou shalt not take the Name of thy God in vain" (Exod. xx, 7; Deut. v, 11). If it holds true for the Eucharist that "whosoever shall eat this (divine) bread .. . unworthily ... eateth . . . damnation to himself" (I Cor. xi, 27-29), it also holds true for the presumptuous use of the Divine Names. One must invoke the Name for the proper purposes and in a proper state of soul. One must be in a state of grace (or at least desire so to be) for to "call upon the Lord" while obstinately clinging to what the Lord forbids is absurd (ab-surd). If we have a loving Christ, we also have a wrathful God. If we have a Name of Love, we also have a Name that is "terrible". If we invoke the Name, we must do so within the womb of the Bride of Christ, within the framework of the "one Holy Apostolic Catholic Church" with all her sacraments and all her traditions. "And Thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that Thou shouldest render reward to Thy servants, the prophets and the saints, and TO THEM THAT FEAR THY NAME" (Apoc. xi, 18).

(41)  Even worse than misuse is blasphemy. "All sins are hateful in the sight of God; but the sin of blasphemy ought more properly to be called an abomination to the Lord" (St. A. Liguori). As Saint Gregory Nazianien says, "the devil trembles at the Name of Jesus and we are not afraid to profane it" (Orat. XXI). "He who blasphemes" says St. Athanasius, "acts against the very Diety itself." The blasphemer, says Saint Bernadine, makes of his tongue "a sword to pierce the heart of God." He continues, "all other sins proceed from frailty or ignorance; but the sin of blasphemy proceeds from malice." St. Chrysostom says "there is no sin worse than blasphemy" because, as Saint Jerome says, "every sin compared to blasphemy is small." St. Thomas Aquinas says that just as the saints in Heaven, after the resurrection, shall praise God with their tongues, so also the reprobates in Hell will blaspheme Him with their tongues (Summa. II-II, 13), and Saint Antonine says that he who indulges in the vice of blasphemy already belongs to the number of the damned, because he practices their art. (Mostly taken from the Sermon of St. A. Liguori).

(42)  Finally, we must warn against the use of this form of prayer (or for that matter, any serious endeavour in the spiritual life) without proper direction. The very idea of methodology in the spiritual life offends the "modern mind" which is in revolt against authority, against reason, and against discipline. The modern mind above all wants to "feel", for in feeling it makes itself—its egoity—the criteria of its own state of soul, and feeling requires neither thinking nor discipline. De gustibus non est disputantumone cannot dispute about matters of personal taste. The modernist forgets that John the Baptist cried (as in the wilderness of the modern world) "prepare ye the way of the Lord." He forgets that Advent must precede Christmas, and that Advent is a penitential season. He may admit to the need for methodology in science, in business, or even in madness, but denies its role in religion. Love and faith are reduced to "feeling" and feeling can never be methodical. What then is this preparation that must precede the coming of Christ? It is the training of the will which requires obedience, discipline and virtue. It is the training of the intellect which requires the abandoning of Pride (egoity), Ignorance and Intellectual sloth. And if there is to be no method, there is to be no direction. Everyone is to be his own spiritual director, and the fact that a person who is his own lawyer, both in this world and in the next, "has a fool for his advocate" is entirely forgotten. (An eastern adage states that "a man who is his own spiritual director has the Devil for his guide"). To enter the spiritual life without a guide is to ignore the words of Christ—the blind cannot lead the blind—it is to ignore the repeated warnings of almost all the saints including John of the Cross and Theresa of Avila. It is to ignore the evangelical councils embodied in all the traditional catechisms. It results, as Philo says, in a person "wandering around in the maze of his own personal opinions." Indeed it is to play the role of Eve in the Garden of Eden and in every sense of the word, to "play with fire." "Whatever is done without the approval of your spiritual father" as Saint Bernard says, "must be imputed to vainglory and therefore has no merit" (Comm. on Song of Songs).

(43)  Let us in conclusion join Saint Anselm in his prayer of the Name of Jesus taken from his Second Meditation:

Be free of fear then, O sinner, breath freely and do not despair. Hope in Him whom you fear. Fly to Him from whom you have flown. Invoke Him assiduously whom you have sinned against in your pride. O Jesus, Jesus, do unto me according to your Name. O Jesus, that you might forgive this proud sinner, have pity on this miserable person who calls upon your sweet Name; O delectable Name, Name of blessed hope, Name that is the comfortor of sinners. For what is Jesus, if He is not a Saviour? Therefore, O Jesus, know yourself for what you are and be to me a Saviour. You did not make me that I should perish; You did not redeem me that I should be condemned; You did not create me out of Your infinite goodness that Your work might be destroyed by my iniquity. I pray You O most bountiful One that You do not allow me to perish on account of my sins. Know Yourself, O most benign Jesus, for what You are and obliterate in me whatever is foreign to You. O Jesus, Jesus, have pity on us while there is still time for mercy so that we will not be condemned on the day of judgement. Of what use to You is my blood? Of what use to You is my being condemned to eternal damnation? "The dead shall not praise Thee O Lord, nor any of them that go down into hell" (Psalm xciii). If You admit me to the fullness of Your merciful bosom, it will not become less capacious because of me. Therefore, admit me, O most desirable Jesus, admit me to the company of Your elect, so that I may praise You, enjoy You, and give glory to you along with those who love your Name. You, O Jesus who with the Father and the Holy Spirit, reign for ever and ever, Amen.



[1] Quotations from Meister Eckhart are taken from Franz Pfieffer (translated: C. de B. Evans), Watkins, London, 1924.

[2] If in oriental spiritual writings the emphasis is on "concentration" rather than the "will" this is because, to quote the Catholic Encyclopedia, "the control of attention is the vital point in the education of the will".

[3] The Buddhist rosary—used in Tibet is "Om Mane Padme Hum", Om (the primordial sound), the Jewel in the Lotus".

[4] Father Pio spent the last hours of his life constantly invoking "Jesu-Maria" (Prophet of the People, a biography by Dorothy Gaudiose, Alba House, N.Y. 1973). Sister Consolata Betrone (1903-1947) used the formula "Jesus, Mary, I love you, Save souls" and her writings are best presented in Jesus Appeals to the World by Lorenze Sales (Alba House, N.Y. 1955). For Saint Isaac Jogues, see Saint Among Savages by Father F. Talbot (image, N.Y. 1961). The works of Saint Louis de Montfort are available from Montfort Publications, Bayside, New York.

[5] "I shall take the bread of heaven and call upon the Name of the Lord—I shall take the cup of salvation . . ." Words spoken by the priest as he communicated in the so-called Tridentine Mass.

[6] Actually, all that is needed for the guarantee of salvation is "love and true contrition". What the Name of Jesus adds is a "plenary indulgence" or the complete remission of one's sins.

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