How to Consider the Mystery of a Meditation

October 2, 2021 • 2 min

From Introduction to the Devout Life, page 52
By St. Francis de Sales


The third point of Preparation, consisting in the proposition of the Mystery.

After these two general points of the meditation, there remains a third, not common to all sorts of meditation, which some call the arrangement of the place, or the interior representation.

This consists in representing to your imagination the whole of the mystery on which you desire to meditate, as if it really passed in your presence.

For example, if you wish to meditate on the crucifixion of our Lord, imagine yourself on Mount Calvary, and that you there behold and hear all that was done or said at the time of our Lord’s passion; or, which will be equally to the purpose, imagine that they are crucifying our Saviour in the very place where you are, in such a manner as is described by the holy Evangelists.

The same rule is to be observed when you meditate on death, or hell, or any mystery where visible and sensible objects form a part of the subject.

But as to other mysteries, such, for example, as relate to the greatness of God, the excellence of virtue, the end for which we were created, &c., as they are invisible things we must not think to make use of the imagination; we may, it is true, use some similitude or comparison to assist us in the consideration of them, but this is attended with some difficulty: therefore, I intend to instruct you in so plain and easy a manner that your spirit may not be wearied by the study of inventions.

By these means we confine our spirit to the mystery we mean to meditate on, that it may not ramble to and fro, just as we shut up a bird in a cage, or tie a hawk by its leash, that it may rest on the hand.

Yet some will say, “It is better to use the pure thought of faith, and a simple apprehension, altogether mental and spiritual, in the representation of these mysteries, or else to imagine that the things were taking place in your own soul.” But this manner is too subtle for beginners; therefore, until such time as it shall please God to raise you higher, I advise you, Philothea, to remain in the low valley I have shown you.

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