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Means of Perfection

by St. Louis de Montfort

The Saints always made Our Lord’s life the principal object of their study; they meditated on His virtues and sufferings and in this way they arrived at Christian perfection.

Once Saint Bernard began this meditation he always continued it. “At the very beginning of my conversion,” he said, “I made a bouquet of myrrh made up of the sorrows of my Savior. I placed this bouquet upon my heart, thinking of the stripes, the thorns and the nails of His Passion. I used all my mental strength to meditate on these mysteries every day.”

This was a practice of the Holy Martyrs too; we know how admirably they triumphed over the most cruel sufferings. Saint Bernard says that the martyrs’ wonderful constancy could have only sprung from one source: their constant meditation on the wounds of Jesus Christ. The martyrs were Christ’s athletes, His champions; while their blood gushed forth and their bodies were wracked with cruel torments, their generous souls were hidden in the wounds of Our Lord. These wounds made them invincible.

During Her whole life, the Blessed Mother’s chief concern was meditation on the virtues and sufferings of Her Son. When She heard the angels sing their hymns of joy at His birth and when She saw the shepherds adore Him in the stable, Her heart and mind were filled with wonder and She meditated upon all these marvels. She compared the greatness of the Word Incarnate to His deep humility and the way He lowered Himself; She thought of Him in His manger filled with straw and then on His Throne in Heaven and in the bosom of His Eternal Father. She compared the might of God to the weakness of a Baby — and His wisdom to His simplicity.

One day Our Lady said to Saint Bridget: “Whenever I meditated on the beauty, modesty and wisdom of My Son, My heart was filled with joy: and whenever I thought of His hands and feet which would be pierced with cruel nails, I wept bitterly and my heart was rent with sorrow and pain.”

After Our Lord’s ascension, Our Blessed Lady spent the rest of Her life in visiting the places that had been hallowed by His presence and sufferings. When She was in those places She used to meditate upon His boundless love and upon His terrible Passion.

Saint Mary Magdalene did nothing other than religious exercises of this kind during the last thirty years of her life when she lived in the prayerful seclusion of Sainte Baume.

Saint Jerome says that devotion to the Holy places was widespread among the faithful in the early centuries of the Church. They came to the Holy Land from all corners of Christendom so as to impress a great love and remembrance of their Savior more deeply upon their hearts by seeing the places and things He had made holy by His birth, by His work, by His sufferings and by His death.

All Catholics have but one Faith and adore one and the same God, all hoping for the same happiness in Heaven. They have one Mediator Who is Jesus Christ and therefore they must all imitate their divine Model and in order to do this they must meditate on the mysteries of His life, His virtues and of His glory.

It is a great mistake to think that only priests and religious and those who have withdrawn from the turmoil of the world are supposed to meditate upon the truths of our Faith and the mysteries of the life of Jesus Christ. If priests and religious have an obligation to meditate on the great truths of our holy religion in order to live up to their vocation worthily, the same obligation, then, is just as much incumbent upon the laity — because of the fact that every day they meet with spiritual dangers which might make them lose their souls. Therefore they should arm themselves with the frequent meditation on the life, virtues and sufferings of Our Blessed Lord — which are so beautifully contained in the fifteen mysteries of the Holy Rosary.