Monday, October 27, 2014

Adult Formation, Sessions on Prayer: Session 4 - The Three Ages of the Interior Life

This was a talk on the Three Ages of the Interior Life, given at Corpus Christi Parish in Great Falls by Father Ryan Erlenbush.

Unfortunately, only the first have of the talk was recorded (the rest was lost).
Below, please find the handouts in electronic format.

Listen to the session online [here]!

Introduction to and overview of the Three Ages of the Interior Life
            A. The Beginners, Proficients, and Perfect
            B. The Purgative, Illuminative, and Unitive Ways

Sts. John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila, compared
            A. The Three Ages of St. John, and the two Dark Nights
            B. The Seven Mansions of St. Teresa

A problem: Is the division artificial?
            A. Is it helpful to study the spiritual life in this manner?
            B. Should we try to discern where we are in the spiritual life?
            C. Is this related to Sacred Scripture?

 The Interior Life of the Apostles and our own
            A. The First Conversion and Purgative Way: The call of the Apostles
            B. The Dark Night of the Senses and Illuminative Way: The Crucifixion and Resurrection
            C. The Dark Night of the Soul and Unitive Way: The Ascension and Pentecost
            D. The Apostles as our models



The Three Ages of the Interior Life
Degrees of Charity
Initial virtues, first degree of charity, temperance, chastity, patience, first degrees of humility.
Solid virtues, second degree of charity, obedience, more profound humility; spirit of the counsels.
Eminent and heroic virtues, third degree of charity, perfect humility, great spirit of faith, abandonment, almost unalterable patience.

Gifts of the Holy Ghost rather latent, inspirations at rare intervals, slight aptitude as yet to profit by them. The soul is especially conscious
of its activity.
The gifts of the Holy Ghost begin to manifest themselves, especially the three inferior gifts of fear, knowledge, and piety. The soul, more docile now, profits more from inspirations and interior illuminations.
The higher gifts manifest themselves more notably and frequently. The soul is, as it were, dominated by the Holy Ghost. Great passivity in His regard, which does not exclude the activity of the virtues.

Active purification of the senses and of the spirit, or exterior and interior mortification.
Passive purification of the senses, under the influence especially of the gifts of fear and knowledge. Concomitant trials. Entrance into the illuminative way.
Purification of the spirit under the influence especially of the gift of understanding. Concomitant trials in which are manifested the gifts of fortitude and of counsel. Entrance into the perfect unitive way.

Acquired prayer: vocal prayer, discursive prayer, affective prayer, which becomes more and more simple, called the prayer of active recollection.
Initial infused prayer, isolated acts of infused contemplation in the course of the acquired prayer of recollection; then, prayers of supernatural recollection and of arid or consoled quiet. The gift of piety.
Infused prayers of simple union, of complete union
( sometimes ecstatic), of transforming union, under the more and more marked influence of the gift of wisdom. Concomitant favors.

First and second mansions
Third and fourth (and fifth) mansions
(Fifth), sixth, and seventh mansions
Mansions of St. Teresa of Avila


Signs of the Passive Purification of the Senses
Psychological Description (St. John of the Cross)
Theological Explanation (Gifts of the Holy Spirit)
3. Great difficulty in meditating discursively, an attraction for the simple affective gaze toward God.
Inspiration of the gift of understanding, beginning of infused contemplation.
2. Keen desire to serve God, thirst for justice, and fear of sin. Resistance to temptations.
Inspiration of the gift of fortitude, which in the midst of difficulties preserves the hunger and thirst for justice, and influence of the gift of fear to resist temptations.
1. Sensible aridity, no consolation in the things of God, or in created things.
Inspiration of the gift of knowledge, which shows the vanity and emptiness of everything created, the gravity of sin, whence the tears of true contrition.

(from The Three Ages of the Interior Life, Garrigou-Lagrange)

“As the passive purification of the sensible part of the soul is manifested by the loss of the sensible consolations to which it was excessively attached, the passive purification of the spirit seems at first to consist in the deprivation of the lights previously received of the mysteries of faith. […]
“Then, what occurs? To lift the soul above this excessively inferior and superficial knowledge of divine things, the Lord detaches it from this way of thinking and praying and seems to strip it of its lights. In the words of St. John of the Cross: ‘God now denudes the faculties, the affections, and feelings, spiritual and sensual, interior and exterior, leaving the understanding in darkness, the will dry, the memory empty, the affections of the soul in the deepest affliction, bitterness, and distress; withholding from it the former sweetness it had in spiritual things.’ (The Dark Night, Bk. II, chap. 3) […]
“[The soul] can no longer easily apply itself to the consideration of our Savior's humanity; on the contrary, it is deprived of such consideration, as were the apostles immediately after Christ's ascension into heaven. […]
“This deprivation of the sensible presence of Christ's humanity which preceded the transformation of the apostles, effected on Pentecost, throws light on the state of darkness and desolation that we are discussing. It seems to the soul in this state that it enters a spiritual night, for it is deprived of the lights which hitherto illumined it; darkness descends as when the sun goes down.”


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