"This book of meditations is meant for all priests, seminarians, religious, the devout laity, all who aspire to greater union with God: that is, to divine intimacy."
Pope Saint John XXIII
"This Book of Meditations on the interior life for every day of the liturgical year is a pearl of great price. For spiritual reading and personal prayer, it is a treasure, providing sound guidance on the journey of prayer, and a safe companion on the road to holiness and to intimate union with God."
Bishop Philip Boyce O.C.D, Bishop of Raphoe, Ireland.
This Book of Meditations is a classic and is seeped in Carmelite spirituality. For every day it offers two meditations, in liturgical arrangement, that enable the soul to enter the conscious presence of God and to reflect on the theme of the day. These are followed by a ‘Colloquy’ that helps the person at prayer to start a friendly conversation with God where acts of praise and love, petition and thanksgiving are made, together with good resolutions for the future. Here we are at the very heart of prayer, which is a heart-to-heart encounter in faith with the living God.
Divine Intimacy is the highest state attainable on earth. In this union of love, the soul produces acts of love which have an immense apostolic influence on a multitude of souls. This knowledge of the ways that lead to God, according to the teaching of the renowned Spanish mystics, is distilled into the pages of this book.
About the Author:
Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D., was a Discalced Carmelite priest who became one of the most revered masters of the spiritual life. He acquired a vast knowledge of the ways that lead to holiness and to union with God. His experience with souls, whom he guided to the heights of perfection, was outstanding. He was an expert in the spiritual and mystical doctrine of St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila) and of St. John of the Cross. The Discalced Carmelite nuns of the Monastery of St. Joseph in Rome were the heirs of the Father Gabriel’s vast output of published works and private manuscripts. For ten years, he guided these nuns as their confessor and spiritual director, and it was they who helped him to arrange his material in line with the course of the liturgical year, while following the ascent of the soul to transforming union with God, or to ‘Divine Intimacy.’
Divine Intimacy - Meditations on the Interior Life
for every day of the Liturgical Year. The original edition of Divine Intimacy was published in Italian under the title "Intimità Divina del P. Gabrielle di S. Maria Maddalena". This edition is the English translation by the Discalced Carmelite Nuns of Boston published under licence from Monastero S. Giuseppe – Carmelitane Scalze, Roma,
Italia. This edition has been re-typeset using the text of the 1964 edition originally published by Desclée Company.
In these times when the lines of battle are being drawn more and more clearly between the forces of religion and those of atheism, we see the devotees of each of these systems calling upon every resource at their disposal. Before one can really fight for a cause, he must be fully convinced of the truth of it. He must ponder its ideals and adapt his thoughts and actions to it.
We can be sure that the fervent Communist gives serious thought and frequent consideration to the ideals for which he is sacrificing himself. Only in this way can he fire his zeal to continue the struggle. But we, as Christians, have a much greater cause to fight for. It is greater precisely because it is true and divine. How mistaken we are if we neglect to increase our knowledge of and zeal for our Faith. We can hardly expect to remain fervent and apostolic Christians unless we make it a practice to ponder the truths of our holy religion, to strive to identify our thoughts with those of Christ, our Leader, and to transform those thoughts into effective action in His service.
This book is a mine of inspirational thoughts, an excellent book of meditations which aims at helping us to review and concentrate on the treasures of our Faith, so that an intelligent appreciation thereof will become a significant factor in our thinking and acting. It should also prompt us to be one with Christ and to bring about the most intimate union that is possible in this life between souls and God. The author of Divine Intimacy, Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D., was one of the outstanding Discalced Carmelite authors and lecturers of modern times. A devout son of St. John of the Cross, he devoted himself generously and tirelessly to the task of promoting that desired union, both in himself and in others. His book of meditations for each day of the year is an outstanding part of his effort. Faithful to these meditations from day to day, we shall know Christ and live Christ, absorb His teachings more fully and become more dedicated to His service. Our zeal for the cause of Christ will then equal—nay, far outstrip—that of the atheistic Communist. He meditates on false doctrines, the work of Godless men, which lead him to become less than a man. The Christian meditates on the Gospel of Christ, which leads him to become something more than a man—to share in an intimate manner in the life of God Himself—to become Godlike, or in the words of St. John of the Cross, “God by participation.”
✠ Richard Cardinal Cushing
Archbishop of Boston
The extraordinary success with which the volume, Divine Intimacy, has been received among clergy and religious, as well as among those in the world who are consecrated to God, those engaged in Catholic Action, and the faithful in general, is a fitting crown to the author’s life, one which was permeated with the desire for intimate union with God and the apostolate of fostering the interior life.
The late Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen entered the Order of Discalced Carmelites in Bruges, Belgium, in 1910, at the age of seventeen.
The First World War (1914-18) forced him to continue his study of philosophy and theology in Ireland. He was ordained priest in 1919. From 1919 to 1926, while teaching philosophy in the Seminary of the Order at Courtrai in Belgium, he had the opportunity of completing his own studies at the nearby University of Louvain, and finally in Rome, where he attended the Pontifical Institute, the “Angelicum.”
From 1926 to 1936 Father Gabriel was spiritual director of the young theologians at the International College of St. Teresa in the city where, at the same time, he was teaching theology. From 1931 until his death (March 15, 1953), he dedicated himself especially to the study of spiritual theology. During this last period of his life, his remarkable talents as a teacher and spiritual director were clearly evidenced, both in the conferences on Carmelite spirituality, which he gave in Rome and in the larger cities of Italy, as well as in his numerous publications on St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, and St. Teresa Margaret of the Heart of Jesus.
He was also a member of the Roman Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas and a Consultor of the Sacred Congregation of Rites.
By his lectures and writings, this great religious and eminent spiritual director became an ardent leader in the spiritual movement in Italy.
In 1941 he founded the review Vita Carmelitana, the title of which was changed in 1947 to Revista di Vita Spirituale. This review continues to propagate the sound doctrine of the spiritual life that is needed more than ever today.
Father Gabriel was profoundly aware of the spiritual needs of our times, and he also understood the special mission of Carmel in the Church, that of leading souls to a life of intimate union with God by means of the practice of mental prayer. Thus he conceived the idea of a book which, taking its inspiration from the great teachers of Carmel, would set forth the whole doctrine of the spiritual life in the form of simple, but solid, meditations—a book which would introduce souls to intimate prayer.
Divine Intimacy, therefore, seeks to arrange daily meditations “in such a way that in the course of one year the most important problems of the spiritual life and all the supernatural realities met with in the interior life will have been reviewed” (Preface).
To promote his work, Father Gabriel asked the assistance of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns of the Monastery of St. Joseph in Rome. To this end, he furnished them with the vast amount of material at his disposal (his publications, the texts of his conferences, instructions, sermons, and so forth). He then outlined the plan for the whole book and directed the work on it. This collaboration with his spiritual daughters in Carmel proved truly providential. After the untimely death of the renowned master, the Nuns, who were in possession of all his manuscripts, were able to bring to a happy conclusion the publication of their venerated Father’s work.
The first edition of Divine Intimacy, received with great enthusiasm by Christians everywhere, was quickly exhausted. Translations into several languages were requested. Numerous letters from prelates, directors of seminaries, superiors of religious houses, priests, and the laity have testified to the benefit received from this work.
May this English edition of Divine Intimacy awaken many souls to the need of a solid interior life and lead them to close union with God, the source of a really fruitful apostolate in the Church.
Fr. Benjamin of the Holy Trinity, O.C.D.
First Definitor General of the Discalced Carmelites
Mental prayer is indispensable to the spiritual life; normally it is, so to speak, its very breath. However, this spontaneity in prayer is usually realized only if the soul applies itself to meditation for some time by its own personal effort. In other words, one must learn how to pray. It is to teach souls this devout practice that various meditation books have been published. There are many methods, each with its own merit; among them is the Teresian method, so called because it is based on the teachings of St. Teresa of Jesus, the Foundress of the Discalced Carmelites and the great mistress of the spiritual life.
Some years ago, we outlined this method in a pamphlet called the Little Catechism of Prayer, which has since been translated into many European languages and into some of the Asiatic tongues. It is a simple exposition of the Teresian method according to the writings of many Carmelite authors; its widespread circulation shows very clearly that this method answers the needs and the desires of many prayerful souls. Hence we judged it timely to offer souls aspiring to advance in the interior life, a collection of subjects for meditation for each day of the year, according to the Teresian idea and method of mental prayer.
The idea of mental prayer which St. Teresa has left us is well known in our day. In her Autobiography she defines it as “friendly intercourse and frequent solitary converse with Him who we know loves us” (Life, 8).
In these words St. Teresa reveals the affective spirit of mental prayer which is its special characteristic. It is “friendly intercourse,” and exchange of “mutual benevolence” between the soul and God, during which the soul “converses intimately” with God—intimacy, as we know, is the fruit of love—and the soul speaks with Him whose love she knows. Each element of the definition contains the idea of love, but at the end the Saint mentions that the soul ought also to “know” and be conscious of God’s love for her: this is the part which the intellect plays in prayer. Therefore, according to St. Teresa, there is an exercise of both the intellect and the will in mental prayer: the intellect seeks to convince the soul that God loves her and wishes to be loved by her; the will, responding to the divine invitation, loves. That is all. There could be no clearer concept of prayer. But how translate it into practice? This is the task of the method.
* * *
In order to understand the structure of the Teresian method clearly, we must keep in mind the definition of prayer given above; then we shall easily see that it is fully realized by such a method, that it truly means conversing lovingly with Our Lord, once we understand that He loves us.
We cannot speak to God intimately unless we are in contact with Him. For this reason, we make use of the “preparation,” which consists in placing ourselves more directly in the presence of God, turning to Him by means of a good thought.
In order to convince ourselves that God loves us, we choose for the subject of meditation one of the truths of faith which can make His love evident: this is the purpose of the reading of an appropriate passage.
However, it does not suffice merely to read the matter; we must examine it thoroughly, and there is no better way of doing this than by reflecting upon it—by meditating.
All revealed truth can manifest God’s love for me, but today I try to understand it by reflecting on the theme I have chosen in my reading. I make use of the good thoughts contained in the subject of the meditation to actually convince myself of His love, so that love for Him will come spontaneously into my heart, and words perhaps, to my lips.
Thus my colloquy with God begins; I tell Him in every way possible (using the words which come to me most spontaneously) that I love Him, that I want to love Him, that I want to advance in His holy love, and that I wish to prove my love for Him by my actions, by doing His holy will.
And now we are at the center, the heart of prayer. For many souls, nothing more is needed. Some, however, prefer greater variety; therefore, to facilitate the prolonging of our loving conversation with God, the three final steps of the method are offered. These, however, are optional.
Thanksgiving: After having told Our Lord again that we love Him, we thank Him for all the benefits we have received from Him and show Him that we are grateful.
Offering: Aware of having received so many favors, we try to repay our debt as far as we can by making some good resolution. It is always useful to end our prayer in this way.
Petition: The consciousness of our weakness and frailty urges us to implore the help of God.
This is the whole Teresian method, divided into seven steps:
Two introductory: the preparation (presence of God) and reading.
Two essential: the meditation and the colloquy.
Three optional, to help in prolonging the colloquy: the thanksgiving, the offering, and the petition.
* * *
The meditations in this book are based on this method.
We begin with the presence of God, an appropriate thought which brings us into contact with our Creator and orientates us toward Him.
The reading provides the subject for the meditation. And as many spiritual persons apply themselves to meditation twice a day, each meditation offers two points.
The soul then begins to reflect, using freely the text already read. In this way it will pass spontaneously to the colloquy which, according to the Teresian concept, is the “heart,” the center of mental prayer.
That is why our meditations are directed toward helping souls especially on this point. To this end we have tried to give the colloquies a form that is sufficiently ample; nevertheless, they may be used freely as desired, each soul choosing whatever corresponds to the need of the moment. To make the colloquies more efficacious, we have selected suitable ardent expressions and thoughts taken by preference from the writings of the saints and other loving souls. Very often we have been obliged to make slight modifications in these texts, in order to adapt them to the intimate form of a colloquy. However, we always indicate their source in parentheses.
The colloquies consist of expressions of love, alternating with petitions, acts of thanksgiving, and transports of the soul toward God; these are made concrete in the resolutions.
We hope that these meditations, written in this way, will help souls to apply themselves to mental prayer according to the Teresian idea and method.
* * *
Teresian spirituality is the spirituality of divine intimacy, that is, it tries to nourish in souls the ideal of intimacy with God and it directs them toward this ideal, principally by means of mental prayer. Mental prayer should be attuned, therefore, to this great and lofty aspiration.
This is the “tone” we have tried to give our meditations, and the title, Divine Intimacy, indicates our intention to help souls as far as possible to attain this great end.
In addition, Teresian spirituality is also doctrinal. St. Teresa of Jesus, the great “mistress of the spiritual life,” always desired—and endeavored to put her desire into practice — that the ascetical and mystical life of those who were dear to her be based on solid doctrine, for the Saint greatly loved theology. That is why we have desired to build these meditations upon a sound theological basis. We have attempted to arrange them in such a way that, in the course of one year, the most important problems of the spiritual life and all the supernatural realities met with in the interior life will have been reviewed.
The meditations begin with the opening of the liturgical year, and are arranged in the following order:
December – The Ideal: Holiness, Intimacy with God, The Apostolate - The Mystery of the Incarnation.
January – Jesus : His Person, His Works, Our Relations with Him - The Church - The Sacraments.
February and March – Interior Purification and the Exercice of Abnegation - The Passion of Jesus.
April – The Life of Prayer.
May – Our Blessed Lady - The Holy Spirit.
June – Jesus in the Holy Eucharist - The Sacred Heart of Jesus - The Most Holy Trinity.
July – The Divine Perfections - The Theological Virtues.
August and September – The Moral Virtues - The Gifts of the Holy Spirit - The Beatitudes.
October and November – The Apostolate - Union with God.
* * *
We should like to call attention to one last point.
Precisely because Teresian spirituality is the spirituality of divine intimacy, the spirit impregnating the exercises by which we hope to attain this lofty ideal must be the spirit of love. We have tried to keep in mind this special mark of the spirit of Carmel. Not all meditation books are adapted to souls thirsting for divine intimacy, simply because they are too much imbued with a spirit of fear. Not, indeed, that fear is not profitable for certain souls, but since there are so many books of this type, we judged it timely to publish a collection of meditations in which love would be united to filial, reverential fear, instead of servile fear, while not denying that this latter can be very salutary. This is also the reason we have by preference emphasized the positive topics of virtue and spiritual progress rather than the negative ones of vice and sin.
May the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love, who deigns to dwell in our souls in order to bring them gradually under His complete influence and direction, kindle in us, “with abundant effusion,” that love of charity which will lead us to intimacy with God! May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of fair love, whose soul, filled with grace, was ever moved by the Holy Spirit, obtain for us from this divine Spirit the favor of remaining docile to His invitations, so that we may realize, with the help of an assiduous, effective practice of mental prayer, the beautiful ideal of intimate union with God.
Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.
Rome, Feast of the Sacred Heart, 1952.
SECRETARIATE OF STATE
OF HIS HOLINESS
The Vatican, July 7, 1961
The Reigning Pontiff accepts with pleasure the copy of the fifth edition of Intimità Divina, a book of meditations following the course of the liturgical year, inspired by the late Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, which you humbly offer Him. It should be added that several Religious of the Monastery of St. Joseph, Rome, collected and diligently arranged the material furnished by the Author, who had not the consolation of seeing his work, an effective compendium of Carmelite spirituality, published.
The meditations are substantial and solid, adapted to the various degrees of spirituality, and within reach of every person of good will. Priests, seminarians, contemplative souls, those dedicated to the apostolate, and finally the laity of every social class have meditated these pages and found encouragement and spiritual profit. This has been so, not only in Italy, but, it may be said, throughout the world, thanks to the translations into all the principal languages.
The Holy Father is glad to know that a new edition in Italian is being prepared. He is pleased that the book has been so successful; He hopes that it will have an ever wider diffusion, so that the innumerable souls in every state of life who long above all things for God, and aspire to an intimate life with Him, may draw light and strength from it to persevere with increased fervor in the work of their salvation.
Finally, His Holiness is happy to impart to you, and to all the Religious of your Monastery, in token of Divine Grace, the Apostolic Benediction.
Yours devotedly in Our Lord,
✠ Angello dell’Acqua
Prioress of the Discalced Carmelites
Monastery of St. Joseph
In bringing Divine Intimacy back to print, Baronius Press has kept the liturgical calendar that its meditations originally followed. This is the calendar of what is now known as the “Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite”, also known as the Traditional Latin Mass. In its current form, this calendar was last revised in 1962.
The 1962 liturgical calendar is markedly different in many details from the liturgical calendar that is presently followed in most Roman Catholic churches, which is the calendar of the Roman Missal of 1970, also known as the “Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite” or more popularly as the “Novus Ordo”. In particular, the 1962 liturgical calendar has a distinct pre-Lenten season of three Sundays, successively called as Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima. The Sundays known in the 1970 calendar as “Sundays in Ordinary Time” are divided in the 1962 calendar into “Sundays after Epiphany” and “Sundays after Pentecost”. Finally, many of the fixed feasts of Our Lord, Our Lady and of the saints have different dates in the two calendars.
Nevertheless, these two liturgical calendars observe Epiphany and Pentecost on the same date: Epiphany on January 6 (at least in the universal Church) and Pentecost on the seventh Sunday after Easter Sunday. A reader who is unfamiliar with the details of the 1962 liturgical calendar can still avoid getting confused with the proper sequence of readings and meditations in Divine Intimacy by keeping in mind these two dates and following the sequence of Sundays after these. It is also advisable to consult an online Ordo of the 1962 Missal, such as that of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales.
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