MOST priests, especially in missionary countries such as ours, are busy men. Interests of all kinds, religious and secular, their own and those of their people, claim their attention almost every day, and at all hours of the day. Those who escape this constant pressure of business or of duty are still liable to be caught up and carried along by the rush of the world around them, and too often they yield to it without resistance. Some are so restless by temperament or by habit, that, even when entirely undisturbed from without, they find it difficult to settle down quietly to anything of a purely mental kind. How detrimental such conditions are to that “life with things unseen" so necessary in the priesthood, need not be insisted upon. The Non in commotione Dominus of Scripture, and the In silentio et quiete proficit anima devota of the Imitation have become axioms of the spiritual life. No priest who cqnsuIts his own experience will be tempted to question them, and this is why we find all those who have seriously at heart their own spiritual welfare coming back from time to time to the resolution of not denying to their poor souls, whatever may happen, the daily nutriment without which they cannot but languish and decline. What the most competent authorities agree in recommending, in one shape or another, as the normal sustenance of a priestly life, is the practice of meditation and the habitual reading of devotional books, especially the "Lives of the Saints." These helps are guaranteed by their rules to members of religious orders, and a growing number of secular priests faithfully employ them. Yet too many still permit themselves to be deprived, of a part at least, of this daily allowance, nor can those who desire it most always succeed in getting it. Shall they, then, because they have failed to secure their regular repast, go all day long, or, it may be, several days, without nutrinlent? Should they not rather, as men of business often do when compelled to miss their meals, try to sustain their strength by getting some nourishment when and where they can? It is to supply a need of this kind that the following pages have been written. They consist of truths almost entirely borrowed from the Gospel, and viewed in their bearing on the spirit and duties of the priesthood. The text which introduces each subject is generally a saying of Our Lord himself, and the development of it is gathered from other recorded utterances of His, or from the inspired writings of the Apostles, or from the daily experience of life. A passage from the Fathers, the Imitation, or some other authorized source is generally given at the end, reflecting in human form the heavenly truth, and helping to impress it on the mind of the reader. As a substitute for morning meditation, whenever passed over, one of these thoughts may be taken up at any free moment in the course of the day, or before retiring to rest at night. In its condensed form it will be found sufficient for one spiritual meal, but on condition that it be assimilated slowly. Quickly swallowed food is no better for the soul than for the body. Hence it is respectfully recommended to those who use this little volume for their spiritual benefit, to avoid all haste in considering the thought they have chosen to dwell upon. Our most sensitive photographic plates require time to reproduce objects that are feebly lighted; and in most of us the spiritual apparatus is far from sensitive, and the truths set before us often show but dimly. In order, therefore, to be impressed by them, we have to take time, holding our minds and souls steadily and humbly before the divine truth, especially in its bearing on the priestly life, until it has pictured itself fully within us. The words of Our Blessed Lord, as set forth in the text, will often suffice by themselves to produce the desired effect.
Rev J B Hogan SS, Brother Hermenegild TOSF, Paperback, ISBN 10: 1503307832, ISBN 13: 9781503307834