Thursday, October 18, 2012

The often ignored: S. Peter of Alcantara



Today was once the memorial of St. Peter, now supplanted by the feast of St. Luke, I think the memorial is currently observed on October 20 or 22.  However, I want to think of him today...

On October 18, 1562, he died peacefully in the Lord. St. Theresa saw his soul take its flight to heaven. Later he appeared to her and said: O happy penance that has merited for me such wondrous glory!"
St. Peter was instrumental in the origin of one of the largest reforms of the OFM. Known for his extraordinary penance and poverty, his spiritual guidance was sought out by such lights of 16th Spain, as St. Teresa of Jesus. His treatise on Mental Prayer is his most famous writing. The Alcantarines*, which implemented his teachings in a reform of the OFM, had a great impact on the evangelization of the New World. And thus through them, this work came to have great influence in Catholic spirituality throughout the Americas.
It is a well known fact that one of the greatest hindrances we have to attaining our final happiness and blessedness, is the evil inclination of our hearts, the difficulty and dullness of spirit we have in respect to good rules; for, if this was not in the way, it would be the easiest thing possible to run in the path of virtues, and attain to the end for which we were created. Concerning which the Apostle says, "I delight in the Law of God, according to the inward man; but I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin." (Rom. 7:22-23) This, then, is the universal cause of all our evil. One of the most efficacious means for overcoming this dullness and difficulty, and for facilitating this matter, is devotion; for as St. Thomas says, "Devotion is nothing else than a certain readiness and aptitude for doing good." For this takes away from our mind all that difficulty and dullness, and makes us quick and ready for all good. It is a spiritual refection, a refreshment, like the dew of Heaven, a breath and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, a supernatural affection. It so orders, strengthens, and transforms a man's heart, that it imparts a new taste and inspiration for spiritual things, a new distaste and abhorrence for sensible things. The experience of every day shows us this. For when a spiritually minded person rises from deep devout prayer, then straight away all his good resolutions are renewed, together with fervor and determination to do good; the desire then to please, and to love, a Lord so good and kind as He has then shown Himself to be, a willingness to endure fresh troubles, and chastenings, even to shedding blood for His sake, then, finally, all the freshness of soul is renewed and blooms again.

If you ask me, by what means so powerful and noble an affection of devotion is attained, the same holy teacher answers that it is by meditation and contemplation of diving things; for from deeply meditating and pondering over these things there springs up this disposition, and affection in the will, which is called devotion; and this stirs and moves us to all good. It is on this account that this holy and religious exercise is so extolled and commended by all the Saints, as being The Means of acquiring devotion, which, though it is but one virtue only, yet it disposes and moves one to all the other virtues, and exists as a general stimulus to them all. - Treatise on Meditation, S. Peter of Alcantara
 

Blessed Junipero Serra was an Alcantarine Franciscan. 

1 comment:

  1. I always thought it sad that there are no longer any male Alcantarines left.

    ReplyDelete


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