Imitation: Book 1, Chapter 18
On the examples of the Holy Fathers
Look upon the lively examples of the holy Fathers in whom shone real perfection and the religious life, and you will see how little it is, and almost nothing that we do. Alas, what is our life when we compare it with theirs? Saints and friends of Christ, they served our Lord in hunger and in thirst, in cold, in nakedness, in labour and in weariness, in watching, in fasting, prayers and holy meditations, and in frequent persecutions and reproaches. Oh, how many grievous tribulations did the Apostles suffer and the Martyrs and Confessors and Virgins, and all the rest who resolved to follow the steps of Christ! For they hated their lives in this world, that they might keep them in life everlasting. Oh what a strict and self-renouncing life the holy Fathers of the desert led! What long and grievous temptations did they bear! How often were they harassed by the enemy, what frequent and fervent prayers did they offer up to God, what rigorous abstinence did they practice!
What a valiant contest waged they to subdue their imperfections! What purity and straightforwardness of purpose kept they towards God! By day they laboured, and much of the night they spent in prayer; though while they laboured, they were far from leaving off mental prayer. They spent all their time profitably. Every hour seemed short to spend with God; and even their necessary bodily refreshment was forgotten in the great sweetness of contemplation. They renounced all riches, dignities, honours and kindred; they hardly took what was necessary for life. It grieved them to serve the body even in its necessity. Accordingly, they were poor in earthly things, but very rich in grace and virtues.
PRAYERS TO BE RECITED DURING THESE FIRST TWELVE DAYS
Come, O Creator Spirit blest!
And in our souls take up thy rest; Come with Thy grace and heavenly aid, To fill the hearts which Thou hast made.
Great Paraclete! To Thee we cry, O highest gift of God most high! O font of life! O fire of love! And sweet anointing from above.
Thou in Thy sevenfold gifts art known, The finger of God’s hand we own; The promise of the Father, Thou! Who dost the tongue with power endow.
Kindle our senses from above,
And make our hearts o’erflow with love; With patience firm and virtue high The weakness of our flesh supply.
Far from us drive the foe we dread, And grant us Thy true peace instead; So shall we not, with Thee for guide, Turn from the path of life aside.
Oh, may Thy grace on us bestow
The Father and the Son to know,
And Thee through endless times confessed Of both the eternal Spirit blest.
All glory while the ages run
Be to the Father and the Son
Who rose from death; the same to Thee, O Holy Ghost, eternally. Amen.
AVE MARIS STELLA
Hail, bright star of ocean, God’s own Mother blest, Ever sinless Virgin,
Gate of heavenly rest.
Taking that sweet Ave Which from Gabriel came, Peace confirm within us, Changing Eva’s name.
Break the captive's’ fetters, Light on blindness pour, All our ills expelling, Every bliss implore.
Show thyself a Mother;
May the Word Divine,
Born for us thy Infant,
Hear our prayers through thine.
Virgin all excelling,
Mildest of the mild,
Freed from guilt, preserve us, Pure and undefiled.
Keep our life all spotless, Make our way secure, Till we find in Jesus Joy forevermore.
Through the highest heaven
To the Almighty Three,
Father, Son and Spirit,
One same glory be. Amen.
(Indulgence of three years. Plenary indulgence, under the usual conditions, if recited daily for a month. Preces et Pia Opera, 292.)
My soul doth magnify the Lord.
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Because He hath regarded the humility of His handmaid; for behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Because He that is mighty hath done great things to me; and holy is His name.
And His mercy is from generation to generations, to them that fear Him.
He hath showed might in His arm; He hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat; and hath exalted the humble.
He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He hath received Israel His servant, being mindful of His mercy.
As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever. Amen.
Glory be to the Father, etc.
(Indulgence of three years. Plenary indulgence, under the usual conditions, if recited daily for a month.-Preces et Pia Opera, 291)