General Confession With Communion
Whoever, of his own accord, wants to make a General Confession, will, among many other advantages, find three in making it here.
First The first: Though whoever goes to Confession every year is not obliged to make a General Confession, by making it there is greater profit and merit, because of the greater actual sorrow for all the sins and wickedness of his whole life.
Second The second: In the Spiritual Exercises, sins and their malice are understood more intimately, than in the time when one was not so giving himself to interior things. Gaining now more knowledge of and sorrow for them, he will have greater profit and merit than he had before.
Third The third is: In consequence, having made a better Confession and being better disposed, one finds himself in condition and prepared to receive the Blessed Sacrament: the reception of which is an aid not only not to fall into sin, but also to preserve the increase of grace.
This General Confession will be best made immediately after the Exercises of the First Week.
It Is A Meditation With The Three Powers On The First, The Second, And The Third Sin
It contains in it, after one Preparatory Prayer and two Preludes, three chief Points and one Colloquy.
Prayer. The Preparatory Prayer is to ask grace of God our Lord that all my intentions, actions and operations may be directed purely to the service and praise of His Divine Majesty.
First Prelude. The First Prelude is a composition, seeing the place.
Here it is to be noted that, in a visible contemplation or meditation -- as, for instance, when one contemplates Christ our Lord, Who is visible -- the composition will be to see with the sight of the imagination the corporeal place where the thing is found which I want to contemplate. I say the corporeal place, as for instance, a Temple or Mountain where Jesus Christ or Our Lady is found, according to what I want to contemplate. In an invisible contemplation or meditation -- as here on the Sins -- the composition will be to see with the sight of the imagination and consider that my soul is imprisoned in this corruptible body, and all the compound in this valley, as exiled among brute beasts: I say all the compound of soul and body.
Second Prelude. The second is to ask God our Lord for what I want and desire.
The petition has to be according to the subject matter; that is, if the contemplation is on the Resurrection, one is to ask for joy with Christ in joy; if it is on the Passion, he is to ask for pain, tears and torment with Christ in torment.
Here it will be to ask shame and confusion at myself, seeing how many have been damned for only one mortal sin, and how many times I deserved to be condemned forever for my so many sins.
Note. Before all Contemplations or Meditations, there ought always to be made the Preparatory Prayer, which is not changed, and the two Preludes already mentioned, which are sometimes changed, according to the subject matter.
First Point. The first Point will be to bring the memory on the First Sin, which was that of the Angels, and then to bring the intellect on the same, discussing it; then the will, wanting to recall and understand all this in order to make me more ashamed and confound me more, bringing into comparison with the one sin of the Angels my so many sins, and reflecting, while they for one sin were cast into Hell, how often I have deserved it for so many.
I say to bring to memory the sin of the Angels, how they, being created in grace, not wanting to help themselves with their liberty to reverence and obey their Creator and Lord, coming to pride, were changed from grace to malice, and hurled from Heaven to Hell; and so then to discuss more in detail with the intellect: and then to move the feelings more with the will.
Second Point. The second is to do the same -- that is, to bring the Three Powers -- on the sin of Adam and Eve, bringing to memory how on account of that sin they did penance for so long a time, and how much corruption came on the human race, so many people going the way to Hell.
I say to bring to memory the Second Sin, that of our First Parents; how after Adam was created in the field of Damascus and placed in the Terrestrial Paradise, and Eve was created from his rib, being forbidden to eat of the Tree of Knowledge, they ate and so sinned, and afterwards clothed in tunics of skins and cast from Paradise, they lived, all their life, without the original justice which they had lost, and in many labors and much penance. And then to discuss with the understanding more in detail; and to use the will as has been said.
Third Point. The third is likewise to do the same on the Third particular Sin of any one who for one mortal sin is gone to Hell -- and many others without number, for fewer sins than I have committed.
I say to do the same on the Third particular Sin, bringing to memory the gravity and malice of the sin against one’s Creator and Lord; to discuss with the understanding how in sinning and acting against the Infinite Goodness, he has been justly condemned forever; and to finish with the will as has been said.
Colloquy. Imagining Christ our Lord present and placed on the Cross, let me make a Colloquy, how from Creator He is come to making Himself man, and from life eternal is come to temporal death, and so to die for my sins.
Likewise, looking at myself, what I have done for Christ, what I am doing for Christ, what I ought to do for Christ.
And so, seeing Him such, and so nailed on the Cross, to go over that which will present itself.
The Colloquy is made, properly speaking, as one friend speaks to another, or as a servant to his master; now asking some grace, now blaming oneself for some misdeed, now communicating one’s affairs, and asking advice in them.
And let me say an Our Father.
It Is A Meditation On The Sins And Contains In It After The Preparatory Prayer And Two Preludes, Five Points And One Colloquy
Prayer. Let the Preparatory Prayer be the same.
First Prelude. The First Prelude will be the same composition.
Second Prelude. The second is to ask for what I want. It will be here to beg a great and intense sorrow and tears for my sins.
First Point. The first Point is the statement of the sins; that is to say, to bring to memory all the sins of life, looking from year to year, or from period to period. For this three things are helpful: first, to look at the place and the house where I have lived; second, the relations I have had with others; third, the occupation in which I have lived.
Second Point. The second, to weigh the sins, looking at the foulness and the malice which any mortal sin committed has in it, even supposing it were not forbidden.
Third Point. The third, to look at who I am, lessening myself by examples:
First, how much I am in comparison to all men;
Second, what men are in comparison to all the Angels and Saints of Paradise;
Third, what all Creation is in comparison to God: (--Then I alone, what can I be?)
Fourth, to see all my bodily corruption and foulness;
Fifth, to look at myself as a sore and ulcer, from which have sprung so many sins and so many iniquities and so very vile poison.
Fourth Point. The fourth, to consider what God is, against Whom I have sinned, according to His attributes; comparing them with their contraries in me -- His Wisdom with my ignorance; His Omnipotence with my weakness; His Justice with my iniquity; His Goodness with my malice.
Fifth Point. The fifth, an exclamation of wonder with deep feeling, going through all creatures, how they have left me in life and preserved me in it; the Angels, how, though they are the sword of the Divine Justice, they have endured me, and guarded me, and prayed for me; the Saints, how they have been engaged in interceding and praying for me; and the heavens, sun, moon, stars, and elements, fruits, birds, fishes and animals -- and the earth, how it has not opened to swallow me up, creating new Hells for me to suffer in them forever!
Colloquy. Let me finish with a Colloquy of mercy, pondering and giving thanks to God our Lord that He has given me life up to now, proposing amendment, with His grace, for the future.
It Is A Repetition Of The First And Second Exercise, Making Three Colloquies
After the Preparatory Prayer and two Preludes, it will be to repeat the First and Second Exercise, marking and dwelling on the Points in which I have felt greater consolation or desolation, or greater spiritual feeling.
After this I will make three Colloquies in the following manner:
First Colloquy. The first Colloquy to Our Lady, that she may get me grace from Her Son and Lord for three things: first, that I may feel an interior knowledge of my sins, and hatred of them; second, that I may feel the disorder of my actions, so that, hating them, I may correct myself and put myself in order; third, to ask knowledge of the world, in order that, hating it, I may put away from me worldly and vain things.
And with that a Hail Mary.
Second Colloquy. The second: The same to the Son, begging Him to get it for me from the Father.
And with that the Soul of Christ.
Third Colloquy. The third: The same to the Father, that the Eternal Lord Himself may grant it to me.
And with that an Our Father.
It Is A Summary Of This Same Third
I said a summary, that the understanding, without wandering, may assiduously go through the memory of the things contemplated in the preceding Exercises.
I will make the same three Colloquies.
It Is A Meditation On Hell
It contains in it, after the Preparatory Prayer and two Preludes, five Points and one Colloquy:
Prayer. Let the Preparatory Prayer be the usual one.
First Prelude. The first Prelude is the composition, which is here to see with the sight of the imagination the length, breadth and depth of Hell.
Second Prelude. The second, to ask for what I want: it will be here to ask for interior sense of the pain which the damned suffer, in order that, if, through my faults, I should forget the love of the Eternal Lord, at least the fear of the pains may help me not to come into sin.
First Point. The first Point will be to see with the sight of the imagination the great fires, and the souls as in bodies of fire.
Second Point. The second, to hear with the ears wailings, howlings, cries, blasphemies against Christ our Lord and against all His Saints.
Third Point. The third, to smell with the smell smoke, sulphur, dregs and putrid things.
Fourth Point. The fourth, to taste with the taste bitter things, like tears, sadness and the worm of conscience.
Fifth Point. The fifth, to touch with the touch; that is to say, how the fires touch and burn the souls.
Colloquy. Making a Colloquy to Christ our Lord, I will bring to memory the souls that are in Hell, some because they did not believe the Coming, others because, believing, they did not act according to His Commandments; making three divisions:
First, Second, and Third Divisions. The first, before the Coming; the second, during His life; the third, after His life in this world; and with this I will give Him thanks that He has not let me fall into any of these divisions, ending my life.
Likewise, I will consider how up to now He has always had so great pity and mercy on me.
I will end with an Our Father.
Note. The first Exercise will be made at midnight; the second immediately on rising in the morning; the third, before or after Mass; in any case, before dinner; the fourth at the hour of Vespers; the fifth, an hour before supper.
This arrangement of hours, more or less, I always mean in all the four Weeks, according as his age, disposition and physical condition help the person who is exercising himself to make five Exercises or fewer.
To Make The Exercises Better And To Find Better What One Desires
First Addition. The first Addition is, after going to bed, just when I want to go asleep, to think, for the space of a Hail Mary, of the hour that I have to rise and for what, making a resume of the Exercise which I have to make.
Second Addition. The second: When I wake up, not giving place to any other thought, to turn my attention immediately to what I am going to contemplate in the first Exercise, at midnight, bringing myself to confusion for my so many sins, setting examples, as, for instance, if a knight found himself before his king and all his court, ashamed and confused at having much offended him, from whom he had first received many gifts and many favors: in the same way, in the second Exercise, making myself a great sinner and in chains; that is to say going to appear bound as in chains before the Supreme Eternal Judge; taking for an example how prisoners in chains and already deserving death, appear before their temporal judge. And I will dress with these thoughts or with others, according to the subject matter.
Third Addition. The third: A step or two before the place where I have to contemplate or meditate, I will put myself standing for the space of an Our Father, my intellect raised on high, considering how God our Lord is looking at me, etc.; and will make an act of reverence or humility.
Fourth Addition. The fourth: To enter on the contemplation now on my knees, now prostrate on the earth, now lying face upwards, now seated, now standing, always intent on seeking what I want.
We will attend to two things. The first is, that if I find what I want kneeling, I will not pass on; and if prostrate, likewise, etc. The second; in the Point in which I find what I want, there I will rest, without being anxious to pass on, until I content myself.
Fifth Addition. The fifth: After finishing the Exercise, I will, during the space of a quarter of an hour, seated or walking leisurely, look how it went with me in the Contemplation or Meditation; and if badly, I will look for the cause from which it proceeds, and having so seen it, will be sorry, in order to correct myself in future; and if well, I will give thanks to God our Lord, and will do in like manner another time.
Sixth Addition. The sixth: Not to want to think on things of pleasure or joy, such as heavenly glory, the Resurrection, etc. Because whatever consideration of joy and gladness hinders our feeling pain and grief and shedding tears for our sins: but to keep before me that I want to grieve and feel pain, bringing to memory rather Death and Judgment.
Seventh Addition. The seventh: For the same end, to deprive myself of all light, closing the blinds and doors while I am in the room, if it be not to recite prayers, to read and eat.
Eighth Addition. The eighth: Not to laugh nor say a thing provocative of laughter.
Ninth Addition. The ninth: To restrain my sight, except in receiving or dismissing the person with whom I have spoken.
Tenth Addition. The tenth Addition is penance.
This is divided into interior and exterior. The interior is to grieve for one’s sins, with a firm purpose of not committing them nor any others. The exterior, or fruit of the first, is chastisement for the sins committed, and is chiefly taken in three ways.
First Way. The first is as to eating. That is to say, when we leave off the superfluous, it is not penance, but temperance. It is penance when we leave off from the suitable; and the more and more, the greater and better -- provided that the person does not injure himself, and that no notable illness follows.
Second Way. The second, as to the manner of sleeping. Here too it is not penance to leave off the superfluous of delicate or soft things, but it is penance when one leaves off from the suitable in the manner: and the more and more, the better -- provided that the person does not injure himself and no notable illness follows. Besides, let not anything of the suitable sleep be left off, unless in order to come to the mean, if one has a bad habit of sleeping too much.
Third Way. The third, to chastise the flesh, that is, giving it sensible pain, which is given by wearing haircloth or cords or iron chains next to the flesh, by scourging or wounding oneself, and by other kinds of austerity.
Note. What appears most suitable and most secure with regard to penance is that the pain should be sensible in the flesh and not enter within the bones, so that it give pain and not illness. For this it appears to be more suitable to scourge oneself with thin cords, which give pain exteriorly, rather than in another way which would cause notable illness within.
First Note. The first Note is that the exterior penances are done chiefly for three ends:
First, as satisfaction for the sins committed;
Second, to conquer oneself -- that is, to make sensuality obey reason and all inferior parts be more subject to the superior;
Third, to seek and find some grace or gift which the person wants and desires; as, for instance, if he desires to have interior contrition for his sins, or to weep much over them, or over the pains and sufferings which Christ our Lord suffered in His Passion, or to settle some doubt in which the person finds himself.
Second Note. The second: It is to be noted that the first and second Addition have to be made for the Exercises of midnight and at daybreak, but not for those which will be made at other times; and the fourth Addition will never be made in church in the presence of others, but in private, as at home, etc.
Third Note. The third: When the person who is exercising himself does not yet find what he desires -- as tears, consolations, etc., -- it often helps for him to make a change in food, in sleep and in other ways of doing penance, so that he change himself, doing penance two or three days, and two or three others not. For it suits some to do more penance and others less, and we often omit doing penance from sensual love and from an erroneous judgment that the human system will not be able to bear it without notable illness; and sometimes, on the contrary, we do too much, thinking that the body can bear it; and as God our Lord knows our nature infinitely better, often in such changes He gives each one to perceive what is suitable for him.
Fourth Note. The fourth: Let the Particular Examen be made to rid oneself of defects and negligences on the Exercises and Additions. And so in the Second, Third and Fourth Weeks.