The work was intended primarily for those who assisted at the Retreats given by Father Porter, and who welcomed the attempt to have the lessons contained in them recalled to their memory: it has, however, been equally welcomed by many who have never made retreats, but who have found in the Notes helps to meditation and rules for practical guidance in the difficulties of their spiritual life in the world. Consider this instruction on self-love: WHAT I have called self-love has a variety of names: self-preoccupation, self-consciousness, self-introspection, etc. Whatever we call it, it is a fact of spiritual life and of daily life that many persons are liable to this fault. It is not a healthy frame of mind: it shuts one out from good things. One is not a little puzzled how to make a person see that she has self-love. You may know it is there, but it is not easy to lay your hand upon it. You must get to it by a roundabout way. Such people are always examining self-never being satisfied with their introspection, worrying over it. One of the most common forms is that of those who are always noticing what they feel, not what they til ink. God has given us reason for our guide. So long as we are reasoning we are in a good and healthy state; but if, instead of judging, weighing, reflecting, etc., we go by feeling, it is wrong. "I feel no devotion; I feel very wooden," and so on. Doubt your feelings. Don't regulate your conduct by them. There are persons who say, "I don't feel to pray; I don't feel to believe, to have a soul~ to have anything spiritual at all". This, if carried out in action, makes them leave out their prayers and Communions. and is unwise and foolish in the extreme. Yet those especially who are under the influence of self-love are guided by feelings. What would reason tell you about missing morning prayers? One has made a rule to go to confession and Communion once a week. Then comes a period of blank in which no devotion is experienced. She gives up the Sacraments one week, then another week, and gradually she only receives them once or twice a year. One meets people who have gone back in this way-through self-love. When you get to the region of reason you don't feel. To trust to feeling is a mistake. Feeling is in the lower part of the soul. Our religious life really belongs to reason and free-will, and is above the senses. Silence, recollection, will clear the way and allow us to have the feeling of devotion, but it is dangerous to he guided by feeling, and when you find yourselves noticing that you feel or don't feel, suspect it. Another instance. One has been trying to meditate, and one makes a bad hand of it, and then one declares there is no use trying. Or one has a hasty temper, makes resolutions against giving way to it, breaks them, and gives up trying. Another form is vanity, speaking about myself, about my infirmities and weaknesses if I have nothing else to speak of. I hear a sermon, perhaps, against vanity, and resolve to fight against it; but I don't carry out my resolution, and give it up. I have sinned; there is no use trying; I won't try again. This seems to these people humility, but It IS really conceit and pride. Perhaps you will understand better how it comes from self-love if I put before you an example. I have made my resolution at Holy Communion, and at the end of breakfast I break it. The true thing to say is: "It's not to be wondered at, but it is a thing to be ashamed of; I am sorry, and I will try again. I won't give up trying." There is an instance of self-love, and the absence of it. Of ourselves, big resolutions and small performance.
Rev George Porter SJ, Brother Hermenegild TOSF, Paperback, ISBN 10: 1492754773, ISBN 13: 9781492754770