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Holy Wisdom Or Directions For The Prayer Of Contemplation by Ven. F. Augustine Baker

A POSTSCRIPT TO THE READER.

Beloved Charitable Reader,

To recompense with some advantage the want of a promised Appendix, which was to have contained certain discourses framed by the unworthy author of this methodical Abridgment, for a clearer (though not necessary) explication of a few passages in the foregoing Treatises, I here present unto thee the Testimonies and Approbations of the doctrine here delivered, given by two of the most learned and pious fathers of our Congregation, famous through all Christendom for the more than ordinary eminency of their endowments, to wit, the Very Rev. F. Leander à Sancto Martino, and the Very Rev. F. Rudesind Barlow, both Doctors in Divinity, and who had several times been Presidents-General of our holy Congregation, &c. The which Approbations they gave first voluntarily, upon the request of the Venerable Author, and submission of his writings to their judgment; and a second time by the commission and order of the General Chapter assembled at Douay, A.D.1633, in which an attempt had been made by a certain Religious Father to cast some aspersions on the said doctrine (specially concerning Divine Inspirations and calls), as if the lawful authority of superiors did receive prejudice thereby. But when the said Reverend Father had in a short writing delivered the grounds of his suspicions and allegations, and that in consequence thereto the late Venerable Author had as briefly, with great sincerity and clearness, presented his sense in that matter, the VV. RR. Fathers in Chapter did presently absolve the V. Author, causing withal his opponent to subscribe to a writing conceived in a manner verbatim out of the account given by the Author. But on that occasion they imposed on the two aforesaid VV. RR. Approvers, once more diligently to peruse the several Treatises composed by the V. Author, who most freely and humbly submitted them to their censure; so that on that occasion they renewed their former testimonies and approbations.

From hence, beloved Reader, thou wilt perceive and canst not but give thy testimony and approbation also to the prudent care expressed by our holy Congregation, not to permit any books of this nature even to the private reading and use of their religious subjects, till all possible circumspection and diligence had first been used, that nothing therein should be contained that might produce the least danger, prejudice, or inconvenience. And after all this, way was not given to a publishing the said books, till twenty years were passed, when in a General Chapter assembled in A.D.1653, at Paris, the VV. RR. Fathers, perceiving the many blessed fruits proceeding from the said writings, to the advancement of all regular duties of solitude, humility, obedience, and devotion, especially in the Convent of our RR. Dames of Cambray and elsewhere; and, moreover, finding that many among the Secular Clergy in England, yea, that several devout persons of the laity, both men and women, did, to the wonderful profit of their souls, make use of some of the said Treatises, and not any one appearing that did make any opposition at all to any part of the doctrine; -- on these and the like grounds by unanimous agreement (nemine contradicente) it was ordered, that a Methodical Abridgment of the spiritual instructions dispersed throughout the numerous Treatises of the late Venerable F. Augustine Baker should, for the good and benefit of souls, be exposed to the public.'

To the said Approbations I will adjoin a short discourse written for the satisfaction and encouragement of the Religious Dames of Cambray, by the foresaid most R. Father Leander a S. Martino, and by him called A Memorial,' in which he briefly explains the principal advices delivered by our Venerable Author: as likewise a scheme of the doctrine of Divine calls and Inspirations, at one glance representing to the Reader the sum of the said doctrine, acknowledged by our Author to be perfectly conformable to his sense of it.

The Approbations Follow.

The first books written by our Venerable Author were certain collections out of several spiritual writers, which he entitled with the letters A, B, C. After which he composed himself several Treatises, the which he entitled with the following letters, D, F, G, H, &c.

Now the first of these, viz. D, consisting of about 300 Aphorisms, in which is contained the sum of spiritual doctrine, or Directions for Contemplation, has these Approbations:

Legi et approbavi hunc Libellum pro usu Monialium nostrarum.

Ego Fr. LEANDER, S. Theol. Doctor et Prior Sancti Gregorii, hujus Monasterii B. Mariæ de Consolatione Ordinarius indignus. Augusti 17, 1629.

Again in the Reëxamination.

Allowed.

Br. Leander. Br. Rosendo.

Again. Lectus est hic libellus, et admissus et approbatus a me Fr. Leandro de S. Martino, pro usu Monialium nostrarum.

F. Leander de S. Martino, Ordinarius.

To the book F, (being the second part of Directions for Contemplation and) treating of certain erroneous opinions frequent in these days; also of matters of Confession in a Spiritual Life: together with a Catalogue of choice spiritual books, &c.

The Approbations.

This second part of Directions for Contemplation is not only lawful to be read, but necessary to be known of such as be not instructed in a Spiritual Life, to the end they may learn something here, and know where to learn more, and to perform their obligations without trouble of mind and loss of time to themselves and others.

F. Leander de S. Martino, Prior S. Gregorii, ejusdem Ordinis et Congr. Ordinarius Monialium.

B. Rosendo Barlow, President of the English Congregation of the Order of St. Bennet.

To the book G (the third part), of varieties of Contemplations, &c.

The Approbations.

I have read over diligently this book, and find it in all points worthy of allowance, full of very wholesome doctrine, and fit for our spirit and calling. And therefore I do allow of it for the use of our Nuns, and commend much unto then the practice thereof, according to the rules herein contained.27 Aug.1629.

F. Leander de S. Martino, Prior of S. Gregories, and Ordinary of the Monastery of our Ladies of Comfort in Cambray.

This book, called Directions for Contemplation, the third part, is a brief sum of what is largely handled by the best mystic authors that write of this subject, and therefore worthy to be read, and read again.

B. Rosendo Barlow, President of the English Congregation of the Holy Order of St. Bennet.

To the book H, treating of Purity of Intention, Custodia Cordis, and of Meditation on the Passion.

The Approbations.

This fourth part of Directions for Contemplation is replenished with passing good documents, and very fine explications of the nature and effects of Prayer, and therefore most serviceable to such as seriously seek a perfect course of life. Doway, 24 Dec.1629.

F. Leander de S. Martino, Prior of St. Gregories, ejusd. Ord. et Congr.

B. Rosendo Barlow, President of the English Congr. of the Order of St. Bennet.

To the first part of Doubts and Calls are

These Approbations.

I have carefully read over these three Books of Doubts and Calls, and find them to contain nothing against Faith or good order: but rather very many necessary and secure Instructions and rules for the Direction of internal Prayer; all conformable to the teaching of the best Masters of Spirit that have written of these matters. May 12, 1630.

F. Leander de S. Martino, Prior of the English Benedictines of S. Gregories in Doway.

Again,

Item probatus a me F. Leandro, Præside Congregationis, 1634, Aprilis 4.

To the second part of Doubts and Calls are

These Approbations.

This book, called The second part of Doubts and Calls, may lawfully be read: It containeth nothing but that which is true and profitable to the Reader.4 Jan.1630.

B. Rosendo Barlow, President of the English Congregation of the Order of S. Bennet.

Seen and allowed, as containing very profitable and necessary Doctrine, according to the Spirit and vocation of our Rule.7 Sept.1629.

F. Leander de S. Martino, Prior of S. Gregories, and Ordinary of the Monastery of Our Ladies of Comfort in Cambray.

Again,

Item approbavi. F. LEANDER de S. Martino, Præses Cong., 1634. Apr.4.

To the third part of Doubts and Calls are

These Approbations.

Seen and allowed as containing very profitable and wholesome Doctrine, fit and agreeable to the vocation of our Rule.7 Sept.1629.

F. Leander de S. Martino, Prior of S. Gregories, and Ordinary of the Monastery of Our Ladies of Comfort in Cambray.

Again,

This Treatise of Doubts and Calls is a very good one.1630.

B. Rosendo Barlow, President of the English Congregation of the Order of S. Ben.

To the Book of Confession (the Original whereof is lost, but a Perfect transcript remaining) is

This Approbation.

I have read this Book, and have found nothing in it against Faith or Good manners. For although the Author dispute much against the urging of Confession of Venial sins, as unnecessary to Spiritual profit: yet he doth not in any sort condemn the discreet use of frequent Confession of Venial sins but only the needless renumeration of them and of daily defects, which cannot be used without great loss of time and anxiety of mind. In testimony of this I subscribe my Name at Cambray.17 Sept.1629.

B. Rudisind Barlow, President of the English Congregation of the Order of S. Bennet.

Besides these many more Approbations might be added annexed by the same VV. RR. FF. to other Books: as to that of Discretion; of Sickness; Directions for the Idiot's Devotions (contained in 16 several Books), Remedies; The Stay of the Soul in Temptations, in two volumes; A Book called The Five Treatises; The Alphabet and Abstract, etc.

But I made choice only of the fore-mentioned, because they treated of subjects more likely to meet with contradiction. Supposing, therefore that these will suffice, which are taken from the originals extant at Cambray, in the Approvers' own handwriting, I will here adjoin the fore-mentioned Memorial, containing both an Approbation and explication of the general doctrine of our V. Venerable Author.

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