I recommend to your consideration the stages of the spiritual life outlined by Jean-Baptiste Chautard in his book The Soul of the Apostolate. The 9 stages are listed by Capuchin Friar Charles on his blog, a minor friar.
The renowned German Lutheran theologian Dietrich
Bonhoeffer once remarked, “it is very easy to over-estimate the importance of
our own achievements in comparison with what we owe others.”
Indeed. Beginning right now let’s take an honest look at ourselves and our work.
Jesus, gentle and humble of Heart,
You are the Bread of Life;
help me to live my life hidden in Your Eucharistic Heart
in the Presence of our Father
united in the love and power of Your Holy Spirit.
Give me a listening heart,
a heart to love You for Your own Sake, to love You in myself,
and to love You in my brothers and sisters as You have
Consume me in the fire of Your love.
Mary, Mother of the Incarnate Word and my Mother,
you are the first “house of bread.”
Help me to live in perfect love by being:
the bread of Humility and Abandonment to the Father’s will;
the bread of Sincerity and Truth,
the bread of Purity of Heart;
the bread of Word and Eucharist;
the bread of Simplicity, Poverty and Littleness;
the bread of Silence and Solitude;
the bread of Prayer and Contemplation;
the bread of Reconciliation and Peace;
the bread of Interior and Joyful Suffering;
the bread of Charity and Desert Hospitality,
broken and offered with Jesus to the merciful Father
and shared for the salvation of the world.
Holy Mary, Lady of Bethlehem, Queen of the Desert,
guide me in the journey of the Spirit that, together with you,
I may participate in the wedding feast of the Risen Lamb
until at last I may sing an eternal Magnificat of Love and
face to Face, before our All-Holy Triune God. Amen.
A Way of Desert Spirituality: The Plan of Life of the
Hermits of Bethlehem
Father Eugene L. Romano, Founder of the Hermits of
Bethlehem, Chester, New Jersey
Of all the parables this [one on the prodigal son,
Matthew15:11-32] is the most popular, appealing more universally to the heart
of man than any other. In fact, it contains the whole scope of the theology of
God and the salvation of men. And to some extent it applies to all of us to
some degree. Unless we have lived perfect lives, it is true we are called
As Catholics, if we have done wrong, we go back to our Father.
Christ is represented by a priest. We say, “Father, bless me for I have
sinned.” The priest gives a blessing. The penitent then says, “Father, it is so
long since my last confession and I have sinned as follows.” He expresses his
sorrow and contrition for his sins. Then the words of absolution are pronounced
over him. God sees in him one that has been redeemed by the blood of Christ.
Then he is led to the glorious Lamb of God, slain for us on
Calvary, residing in the tabernacle, to be our food. The tabernacle door is
opened. It contains these hosts, every one of which is the body, blood, soul
and divinity of the Lamb of God, giving peace to you, and there is rejoicing
among the angels.
There is told the story of an old French curate when a
prodigal came to him. As he was making his confession in the sacristy, the
priest smiled and the young man stopped and said, “Father, if you are going to
laugh at me I won’t go on with my confession.” “My son,’ said the priest, “You
misunderstand. I was only thinking of what the Lord said, ‘There is more
rejoicing among the angels of heaven over one sinner that repents than over
ninety-nine just persons which need no repentance.'” That is the spirit of the
mercy and love of God. God understands our weaknesses, our waywardness,
infirmities, like sheep going astray. His love goes out, seeks us, so glad to
have us come to Him. The very angels of God sing with God the Father, that we
are back home again.
I hope that everybody, in the degree in which you are a
prodigal, will take home the message of the love of Christ, the Sacred Heart of
Jesus, and won’t keep away from it. Repent of your sins, feel his embrace, that
joy of conscience after a good confession, after you have been forgiven. The
Father’s says, “I am well pleased with you now. You were lost and you are
found.” [See Luke 15:32]
(Father Paul Wattson, SA, Retreat at Hereford, Texas,
Only mercy challenges our hard-headedness like no other reprimand. Jesus said that he who is forgiven much, loves much. Man is sensitive to no other gesture as he is to mercy. After all, it was the method Jesus used, as Saint Paul recalls, “When we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~Father Julian Carron