THE RIGHT REVEREND

MONSIGNOR[1] CANON[2] THEOLOGIAN[3]

LWIĠI VELLA, D.D.[4]

THE TABERNACLE DIALOGUES

HOURS OF ADORATION

Free Devotional-Archaising English Translation of
Ir-Ruħ Nisranija quddiem Ġesù Sagramentat

by Patricio Shaw

English Bible used: Douay-Rheims

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

TRANSLATOR’S NOTICE

SKETCH OF MGR VELLA’S LIFE

MGR ANTON GAUCI ON MGR VELLA’S MASTERPIECE IR-RUĦ NISRANIJA QUDDIEM ĠESÙ SAGRAMENTAT

MONS VELLA’S SPIRITUAL AND CULTURAL MERIT

LITERARY CHRISTIAN BEAUTY

VELLIAN EUCHARISTIC DIALOGUE

LINGUISTIC AND STYLISTIC ANNOTATIONS

SOME PROPERTIES OF THE MALTESE LANGUAGE

STYLISATION

ARCHAISATION

GLOSSARY

HYMN TO MONSIGNOR VELLA

PART I

AUTHOR’S SECOND EDITION DEDICATION

(AUTHOR’S PREAMBLE) TO THE DEVOTEES OF JESUS IN THE BLESSED SACRAMENT

FIRST HOUR THE LOVE-LOCKED PRISONER

SECOND HOUR AMOROUS CLARIFICATIONS

THIRD HOUR THE MOTHER OF LOVE

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

We are much indebted to Professor Charles Briffa, from the Department of Translation, Terminology, and Interpreting Studies of the Faculty of Arts of the University of Malta, for his extensive and disinterested assistance on several aspects of the Maltese language and on the exact meaning of some subtle words.

TRANSLATOR’S NOTICE

Monsignor Lwiġi Vella’s masterpiece Ir-Ruħ Nisranija Quddiem Ġesù Sagramentat consists of three parts. The two first parts consist of twelve hours each. Part III consists of seventeen hours. This English version is still under preparation, not in a linear manner, sentence by sentence, but in the global application of all kinds of stylistic filters. Hereby we give the first three hours of Part I to World Wide Web surfers.

SKETCH OF MGR VELLA’S LIFE[5]

The sojourn of shipwrecked Saint Paul in Malta, recorded in the Acts of the Apostles[6], starts the history of Catholicism in that Mediterranean archipelago. Use of the first person plural by Evangelist Saint Luke points at his presence there. Saint Paul converted Roman governor Publius to the Gospel, and thenceforth the ties of the Maltese to the Apostle were lasting. Christian catacombs from the Roman period can still be visited: some of them depict Saint Agatha the Martyr, who spent some time on the islands. During the Arabic period, Christians co-existed with Muslims and constituted the majority in Gozo but the minority in Malta. After the expulsion of the Arabs from the Maltese Islands in 1224, all Islamic and Arabic ties disappeared and the nation became entirely Catholic and European, and, through the influence of the Church in Sicily to which it was submitted, Malta adopted Italian for the language of administration, education and predication. The Arabs laid the foundations for the Maltese language, which later received from Italy, and much later also from Britain, its more abstract and civilised lexical half.

Malta passed to the political administration of the Knights of the Order of Saint John in 1530. In 1565 the military order conjointly with the people fought bravely and defeated besieging Turks with huge loss of life. That victory was vital for the safety of the Mediterranean and of European Christendom.

During the rule of the Knights of St John, hundreds of Baroque churches were built throughout the Maltese Islands. Most are very well maintained, and a great number of them have considerable architectural merit. Malta also encompasses several notorious apparitions and miraculous images of Our Lady. In addition to them, Valletta’s “Ta’ Giezu” church enshrines a miraculous wooden Crucifix whose head is of angelic carving[7].

The Knights of St John hosted the relic of the right hand of Saint John the Baptist. After Napoleon’s invasion, they entrusted it to the Russian Imperial family. The relic was taken away from Communist Russia finally to disappear at the hands of Axis troops in Yugoslavia in 1941.

The Clergy in Malta have always been the natural leaders of the people. In 1788 Canon F. X. Caruana earned a reputation for accepting the people’s leadership in their insurrection against French invaders. It was he, too, who demanded the annexation of Malta to Great Britain. He became a bishop in 1831. Since 1864 the island of Gozo has its own bishop. Hence, with their two bishops and nearly a thousand priests, the Maltese islands were more plentifully provided with pastors than any other country in the world. The role religion played in the people’s life is betokened by the frequent festivals and processions which stay the traffic, by constant bell-ringing and by the size and beauty of even village churches. The church of the village of Mosta boasts the third largest unsupported dome in the world.

Abbot Luigi Rigord, a Maltese Jesuit priest (1737-1823) wrote some religious sonnets where inspiration drawn from sublime mysteries is expressed with particular sensitivity, as is the case with the following, which encompasses at once the Nativity and the Passion of Our Lord, and carries the title “Il Natale”:

L’alba non era, e un lume oltre l’usato
Già mi destato avea il gregge mio;
Parea piú dolce il mormorar del rio,
D’insolito color rideva il prato.

Prendo un agnel, ed in svenarlo: “È nato”,
Gridar sento i pastori, “è nato un Dio!”
Corron tutti allo speco e corro anch’io,
L’adoro e gli offro umil l’agnel svenato.

Lo mira il Bambinel, ma così fiso
Che par mi voglia dir: “Tirsi, mi piace”,
Alza gli occhi alla Madre, e da un sorrriso.

Mira la Madre il don, e il don le spiace;
Gli occhi abbassa al Figliol, si cangia in viso,
Volge mille pensier, sospira e tace.

The poet assumes the role of a shepherd boy by Bethlehem, who, upon sacrificing a lamb, hears the glad tidings of the divine Birth and goes to offer the animal to the new-born Redeemer. The gift pleases the Child but not His Mother, on account of its forebodings. The height of the thoughts and feelings of the Blessed Virgin (we may think of pain, faith, love, zeal and resignation) is perceived unuttered but implied.

Before 1864, the Maltese Islands constituted a single diocese. That year, the Island of Gozo became a diocese separated from the Island of Malta by the Bull “Singulari Amore” from Pope Pius IX.

Monsignor Lwiġi Vella was born in Victoria, the capital of Gozo, on December 17th, 1859, of Mikiel Vella and Marì Terez Mercieca, both reportedly chaste and virtuous in the extreme[8]. The father kept a shop for beverages and grocery; the mother transposed prose into verse, was a schoolmistress, and had renowned herbal healing skills.

Father Vella spent his school years amidst diligent study and the company of his favourite friends—priests. At fourteen, he determined to embrace the priesthood. In 1877 he began his first year at Gozo Greater Seminary, which had been opened in 1866 by Mgr Micallef and entrusted to the direction of the Jesuits.

Saint Peter Julian Eymard guided Father Vella in all his undertakings to the glory of the Holy Eucharist. During his life, he was wont to refer to him in private talks and in sermons. Having imbued Father Vella’s thoughts, and influenced his life, Father Eymard even attended his death: lying in final agony, Father Vella could recurrently hear and see his Patron, and asked those at the room to bring in a chair for him. His words were uttered in the most normal mental state. The witnesses reported that Father Vella was all the while speaking and reasoning flawlessly and saying his prayers orderly.

While a Seminarian, Father Vella won several outstanding—mostly culminating—awards on different subjects. He led an exemplary life, particularly as regards piety, discipline and study. In December 1880, Cleric Lwiġi Vella was appointed Prefect of Gozo Seminary for the Marian Congregation, where he had made his profession two years earlier. The Jesuit Fathers, well-acquainted with Father Vella’s enthusiasm for study, kept him after his ordination at the Seminary as a Prefect and Doctor of Religion. He passed a pieni voti his examinations for the orders of Porter, Lector and Acolyte. Finally, while already a Deacon, he passed the examination for the order of Presbyter. i.e., a fully qualified Catholic priest. To young, he needed the Bishop of Malta Pietru Pace to ask Rome for a dispensation. This was quickly granted: in December 1882, the same Bishop ordained Deacon Vella a priest.

Completion of Seminary studies put no end to Mgr Vella’s intellectual activity. He was to spend his whole life studying and writing, even to his last days. His relentless intellectual commitment earned him a Licentiate in Theology in 1884. With his bishop’s permission and recommendation, Mgr Vella took charge of “Il Propugnatore Cattolico”, which for some years was the only religious newsletter to appear in Gozo. He used this position to spread the devotion to Our Lady that resulted from Her apparitions at Ta’ Pinu, Gozo, along with plenty of ensuing miracles. He later continued this task with another newsletter under his direction, “Il Messagiere di Maria”. In 1887 Mgr Vella launched, directed and owned the publication of the newsletter “Id-Devot ta’ Marija”. This was later to be distributed in Tunis, Algiers, Tripoli and Constantinople.

Mgr Vella also spread the Marian advocations of Lourdes and New Pompey. With the latter, he was helped by his friendship with Blessed Bartolo Longo, who built the city of Nuova Pompei as a monument to Our Blessed Lady and Her Rosary. This Italian holy man charged our author with distributing his magazine “Il Rosario e la Nuova Pompei” in Malta. Always eager to spread devotion to Our Lady, Mgr Vella also cared much about the Marian title derived from the La Salette apparitions, and issued many relevant articles in “Id-Devot ta’ Marija”. Our Lady of the Assumption, the Patroness of Gozo, was also the object of his dear devotion and promotion. He wrote beautiful poems to Her honour. As the Director of the newsletter mentioned above, he also published several hagiographic novels that were to prove milestones in Maltese literature.

In 1908 Mgr Vella launched the monthly religious newsletter “L-Ewkaristija — Ħabbar ta’ Ġesù Sagramentat”. Four Maltese bishops took a very favourable and encouraging stand about it. From the very first issue, Mgr Vella engaged in long staged dissertations. Hereafter their titles (in English) are given:

The King of All— Love and the Eucharist — Mary and the Eucharist — Without the Eucharist — Holy Communion — The Life of Jesus in the Eucharist — Allegories of the Eucharist — Before the Tabernacle — Reverence to Sacramental Jesus — The Great Sacrament of the New Law.

In this same newspaper our author also left several biographies of saints and not less than 88 poems of striking wisdom and gracefulness.

In 1892 he began issuing the books Il-Passjoni ta’ Sidna Ġesù Kristu, based mainly on Pensieri ed affetti sopra la Passione di Gesù Cristo per ogni giorno dell’anno, by Capucin Fra Gaetano Maria Da Bergamo, published in Parma in 1766. These are twelve monthly sets of meditations on Our Lord’s Passion.

In 1900 Mgr Vella started staged publication of Book I of Ir-Ruħ Nisranija quddiem Ġesù Sagramentat. Book II appeared in 1910 and Book III in 1917. The latter deals with the Passion of Our Lord from Gethsemani Garden to Calvary as men renew it in the Eucharist. Unlike the first two books, this one contains seventeen instead of twelve hours. The short booklet Il-Vija Sakra ma’ Gesù Sagramentat, which was a Way of the Cross intended to be prayed before the Blessed Sacrament, was published in 1904.

Mgr Vella wrote many books and plenty of articles pregnant with originality, profundity and force. It is most regrettable that his works have been promoted by very few people inside the Maltese geographic and linguistic area, and by fewer outside it.

In 1888, Count Giovanni Battista Acquaderni[9] organised the feasts on Pope Leo XIII’s priestly jubilee at the Vatican. These included a grandiose exhibition of gifts presented to him from the whole world. The event was not only meant to give witness of respect and attachment to the Papacy, but also response to the Masonic pretense that it was dead, buried and altogether extinguished. Count Acquaderni directed this exhibition with the help of world-wide correspondents. Father Vella was the Maltese one. When the Vatican Exhibition was over, the Pope awarded the medal “Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice” to those correspondents who had been most zealous for its success—which included Father Vella. In 1889, Count Acquaderni also summoned Catholics to ornate the tomb of late Pope Pius IX as a sign of love for him. To that end, he called his former correspondents again on the feast of Leo XIII’s priestly jubilee. Father Vella came onto the scene and achieved a magnificent harvest among the people of his country.

In 1890 Father Vella became Chaplain at Victoria Hospital, where he eagerly brought both doctrine and solace. Father Vella was also a member of the Pia Unione dei Cooperatori Salesiani di Don Bosco, and appointed its Gozo Deputy Director by Saint John Bosco’s successor, Blessed Michael Rua, in 1891. Father Vella attended the momentous Third International Congress of the said Institution at Turin. In 1894 Bishop Camilleri appointed him the extraordinary confessor to the Tertiary Dominican Sisters, and five months later, he became the confessor to the Tertiary Franciscan Sisters. In 1896, during the preparations for the First International Anti-Masonic Congress, the Gozitan committee appointed Father Vella one of its three members. In 1899, after a short competitive examination, Father Vella was appointed a Canon Theologian at Gozo Cathedral Chapter. Naturally, this meant that Father Vella had to cease his functions as a Hospital Chaplain. His new function required him to explain Holy Scriptures at Gozo Cathedral, which task he undertook with full dedication and earnestness. With his conferences he would get the Cathedral packed with attentive crowds.

In 1890 Father Vella made ready to graduate in Theology. He had already got the Baccalaureate and Licentiate in Theology after two examinations in Dogmatic Theology held at Gozo Episcopal Seminary in the presence of four Jesuit priestly professors, following a recommendation made at Rome by Bishop Camilleri. After that, the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation of Studies wrote to that same Bishop that, on account of Canon Vella’s particular merits, he could apply for another examination to be held in the presence of the Bishop himself and three examiners. This meant submitting 184 theses, as would have been the case in Rome at that time. Father Vella’s performance was excellent, which was reflected in a report sent to Rome. Despite that, the Pontifical Rescript gave him only an ad tempus doctoral title, i.e., for the time he would occupy his post as a Canon Theologian. Naturally, this decision disappointed Father Vella as well as Bishop Camilleri, who accordingly wrote to the Sacred Congregation of Studies. Knight Mikelanġ Mizzi, a Gozitan politician who then enjoyed great influence in Rome, also wrote a relevant letter. There he commented to the Sacred Congregation:

It is ridiculous that someone who deserves the doctoral degree should enjoy this title for a determinate term, only to lose it later, and that upon ascending to the highest degree of the Capitular Body. This means for him to be demoted on the occasion of assuming another dignity . . . . Apart from that, the Government does not recognise ad tempus titles, which means for their holders not to enjoy them. This should offend the granters.

Additionally, the knight made an important point. There were at that time certain questions to be settled between Clergy and Government. It would mean an inauspicious precedent if the Government were to learn that the Examining Board, duly constituted by most qualified persons, failed to have a Candidate duly graduated in Theology. The Examining Board (Giunta Esaminatrice) was the ecclesiastic authority responsible for settling political and administrative questions. This controversy had a suitable resolution. Later in 1900, the Sacred Congregation of Studies in Rome issued another Rescript nominating him a Doctor in Sacred Theology—which meant he could be called Monsignor.

Obedience and submission to ecclesiastic authorities is a general rule in Catholic doctrine, but not an absolute one. Father Vella’s example above shows a just and thoughtful exception to that rule. Another such example is found in his strong self-defence before a mistaken admonition that Mgr Guzeppi Farrugia addressed to him about Canon Law and certain financial issues.

Time passed and Saint Pius X succeeded Leo XIII on Saint Peter’s Chair. Mgr Vella celebrated the new Pope’s priestly jubilee with a day of solemn adoration at Savina Church “for the needs of the Pope, Father of all Christians and a great devotee of the Blessed Sacrament”. Mgr Vella was an enthusiastic propagator of Saint Pius X’s generous and inviting concessions regarding the Holy Eucharist, which shook centuries of Jansenistic-minded restrictions and can be summed up in these words:

The main reason why Jesus Christ and the Church desire that Christ’s faithful should daily approach the Sacred Banquet is this: By their union with God in this sacrament they will find the strength to control their passions, make satisfaction for the venial faults of daily occurrence, and avoid those graver sins to which human frailty is subject. The question of giving honour to God is secondary, nor is there any question of Holy Communion being the reward, so to speak, of virtue.[10]

Father Vella was overjoyed to learn that the International Eucharistic Congress of 1913 would take place in Malta, and that the Pope would send in his name the Cardinal Legate that would later become his personal friend—Domenico Ferrata. It is easy to imagine how exultantly Father Vella could attend the audience and final benediction that Pius X himself gave to him and many other priestly partakers of the Eucharistic Congress of Priests-Adorators that same year at the Vatican’s San Damaso courtyard. How highly the saintly Pontiff esteemed Father Vella is evident from his appointing him the Co-Adjutor to Mgr Pietro Pace, Bishop of Malta. And how humble the Maltese man of God was, is evident from his gentle refusal and discrete concealment of that honour.

Mgr Vella was addressed a comparison that carries much weight in view of the addresser, the contents and the circumstances. As the International Eucharistic Congress took place in Malta in 1913, Pope Saint Pius X sent Cardinal Domenico Ferrata for his Legate. The prelate went to open Saint Savina’s Church solemnly in April that year. At that moment, before a great crowd gathered at Saint Savina’s Square, when the tearful Cardinal began to thank God and bless the people full reverently kneeling, he spontaneously said to the Church’s Rector: “Monsignor—nay, I should rather call you another Father Eymard—in no people did I find faith strong as this. “Non inveni tantam fidem in Israel[11]. Although Mgr Vella had a gentle smile for his habit, thus evincing his pure heart and his calm conscience, at the Cardinal’s words his embarrassed humility effaced that smile and his face took on a deep crimson—incidentally, a symbol of flagrant divine charity—while he answered: “Eminence, let it all be referred to the glory of Sacramental Jesus”.

Pope Benedict XV, Saint Pius X’s successor, appointed Cardinal Ferrata—the great benefactor of Savina Church of Adoration—his Secretary of State. He won approval from all Catholics and several governments. Mgr Vella quickly sent him a telegram of congratulations, including a request for his blessing. The Cardinal promptly replied with his signature. This was to be their concluding communication: Ferrata died within one month of his appointment. Mgr Vella did his utmost to repay the Cardinal. Not only did he write extensively in his praise, but he also organised for him a grandiose funeral at Saint Sabina’s. In Mgr Vella’s words, Saint Sabina’s Adoration Church was exceedingly obliged to the Cardinal.

In 1923 the Apostolic Datary Mgr Vella him the Archdeacon to Victoria Cathedral. He would perform this function with great diligence, summoning not less than 74 Chapter meetings and presiding over thirty of them.

Mgr Vella was a restless promoter of everything related to the glory of God and the edification of souls, and was not restrained to the purely immaterial and contemplative sphere. He took Victoria Savina Church much to heart. This temple has momentous historical importance in Gozo: its origins date back to 1100, and for centuries it served as a parish for half the island. In 1502 its first rebuilding took place. In 1901 Mgr Vella was charged by the Cathedral Chapter with another reconstruction of the same church. He accepted to do this and also to be the Rector of that church and directed important works to increase its size, richness and beauty. Many notable people in Malta and overseas, priests and laypeople, contributed to the architectural works. It was at this church that this zealous Apostle established Perpetual Adoration through the “Guards of Honour”, the “Little Pages”, the Nocturnal Adoration, and the Holy Hour of adoration. It was there, too, that he would gather children, boys and men for Catechism, thus giving proof of his great love and devotion to Sacramental Jesus. Mgr Vella was the spiritual father of the Maltese branch of the Confraternity of the Heart of Jesus, which had been founded in Rome by Father Vittorio Jouet, a Missionary of the Heart of Jesus, to the suffrage of souls in Purgatory.

Mention is due, among Mgr Vella’s merits, to his efforts to found and foster several congregations aimed at devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. Outstanding in originality was the “Congregation of the Little Pages for the Honour of Sacramental Jesus”. Any children could be signed up from their birth to their fifteenth birthday. A special medal was assigned to them, and the ejaculatory prayer, “Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar”, was to be said in the morning and the afternoon by the children themselves or by their parents. At the very dawn of reason, those children were expected to do a daily visit of five minutes to the Blessed Sacrament—if not at church, at least at home. Pope Saint Pius X granted many indulgences to the congregation. Mgr Vella composed hymns in Maltese for two choirs of children to sing in honour of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Those rhymed and sung compositions strike the heart with the extraordinary beauty, sweetness and devotion that they distil. Mgr Vella also established a “Holy Hour”, inspired at Saint Mary Margaret Alacocque, and the “Society of Saint Joseph” for the needs of the dying and for the obtention of the grace of Baptism for all children. He attempted to found a Maltese branch of the women’s religious order “Servants of the Most Blessed Sacrament”, which had been created by Saint Eymard together with Mother Margaret Guillot. Mgr Vella did unfortunately not live to carry out this project.

Mgr Vella devoted a vast amount of activity, predication and writing to the exaltation of Papacy and to the propagation of the doctrines and devotions of the Pontiffs who reigned during his lifetime. The 19th century drawing to its closure, Freemasonry was quite active in Italy and harassed the Church much[12]. It was spread over virtually all regions of Europe, the Americas and the British Empire. Expectably, it ran lodges in Malta too. The Maltese Church watched and warned relentlessly against the danger: the authoritative voice of her highest leaders was backed by religious newsletters, including those run by Mgr Vella. Intent on supporting Pope and Church in their struggle against Secret Societies, for many years he reported to his readers on several iniquitous Masonic political, legal and cultural anti-Catholic campaigns. While Pope Benedict XV reigned, Mgr Vella wrote a “Protest of Reparation” for the Guards of Honour of Sacramental Jesus. The occasion was Freemasonry’s establishing the so-called Società dei nemici di Dio (Society of the enemies of God) in the city of Livorno, Italy.

In early December 1925 Mgr Vella fell ill. Though he recovered, he no longer took part in the Chapter meetings. Unfortunately, the last meeting that he presided over was a stressful one. It was then that Bishop Gonzi, by a letter written to Archdeacon Vella himself, protested against certain writings that had appeared on the “Daily Malta Chronicle”. Those writings blamed the Clergy of Gozo diocese for alleged disciplinary abuses. That was not the only protest that Mgr Vella had to face. In 1924, when Mgr Camilleri was still the Bishop of the Northern Maltese island, another protest occurred against some injurious words from Lord Strickland on the acknowledgement of Pontifical titles. Whatever the purport of these and other questions raised at the Chapter, they were sure to disturb Mgr Vella. In his new investiture as Archdeacon and President of the Chapter, he would sometimes have his freedom severely curtailed, particularly when he had the duty of defending the Chapter’s rights or even the dispositions of Canonic Law. This circumstances made it impossible for him to please everybody, which was doubtless a source of disquiet for him. On one side, there was conscience, which did not allow him to let all pass; on the other, there were men, sometimes reluctant to abide by ordinances and laws. When a righteous-minded, conscientious man has the advantage of an entourage at heart, he may face uneasy or indeed nerve-racking situations—even where he has no say and only distant knowledge. After the 1925 illness, Mgr Vella stopped attending the Chapter’s meetings. He kept lecturing at the Seminary and Savina Church and running the newsletter LEwkaristija.

In 1928, he suffered another attack. He recovered, though; indeed, he felt well enough to decide to take a couple of days to rest at his house in Marsalforn. But it was precisely there that God showed him that he would call him to his side, by sending him another attack of bad health too strong for recovery. Mgr Vella quickly realised his last hour was striking. His relatives, on his request, took him immediately from the Northern port to the capital of the island. More at home, he could profit from amenities absent in the Marsalforn of those days and be far more easily reached by his people and by priestly friends. Most important to him, he was beside Savina, which meant beside Sacramental Jesus. Mgr Vella did not appear to be approaching his last hour. He was a man of unusual stamina and courage. But he knew where he was. Wholly bound to God’s will, he reportedly did nothing but repeat the word “Fiat”. The utterance “Fiat voluntas Dei — God’s will be done”, was usual with him. While receiving Communion during his last sickness, Mgr Vella wished to wear a cassock and a surplice. But probably this time he lacked health or permission to do so. Nonetheless, he prepared himself for this Viaticum more than one hour in advance and received it devotedly and fervently. Though the doctors expected a light and quick death, Mgr Vella remained alive for three whole days after the attack. He showed admirable resignation and unusual calm. His mind remained clear until the end. During his last moments, he reportedly saw Jesus together with Father Eymard! He bade his nephews “bring a chair for Father Eymard”. Few hours later, serene in death as he had always been in life, he called to his side the seven attending priests, embraced them one by one, and blessed them in the Name of God: a scene redolent of those ancient patriarchs who would bless their offspring from their death-beds as a token of eternal bond and love. Then he asked for an image of Saint Peter Julian Eymard, glanced at it smiling and kissed it fondly. Confirmed in his virtuous qualities with the blessing of the Bishop of Gozo, Mgr Michele Gonzi, comforted with the sacraments received with great devotion, embracing a Crucifix, he died the death of the just.

As the Chapter’s great bell rang thrice to announce the demise, people would say unanimously: “He has died, Mgr Vella, the saintly man, the exemplary priest! A righteous man has died! A man has passed away who never harmed anyone!” He was warmly rewarded by the villages of the diocese with loud-tolling bells. His holy soul was offered a resplendent funeral, wherein took part not only the Chapter, the secular and regular Clergy, but even the Bishop through his representative, the female religious communities, and many others, with a thick weeping crowd intent on seeing him for the last time.

A key to Mgr Vella’s personality is given by the fact that not only did he shun evil, but even the appearance of evil, as his maxim evinces: “A priest has quite little to do elsewhere than at the altar, the pulpit, and the confessional”. And indeed, he cherished those places wholeheartedly. The carriage and the desk might be added, seeing his assiduous preaching trips all over Gozo, as well as his authoring of highly inspiring texts. The gem of priestly Gozo had been celebrating Mass for almost 46 years. He was a much called-for and assiduous confessor for most of that period. Concerning the direction of souls, he was the epitome of gentleness: that do those tell of, who made their confession with him. A man of wisdom, discernment and goodness, he spent his life always working for God and Malta. Omnibus omnia factus[13], the Gozitan spiritual Father was an outstanding preacher who, through gentle and precise words, sound doctrine, edification and conviction, drew crowds wherever he preached to the great advantage of souls.

In 1932, Mgr Vella’s tomb was opened. It was worth viewing how animated the people of Victoria became, as the rumour spread that this exalted personage was going to be exhumed and exposed! His tomb was opened for the burial of his sister Angela three years and eight months upon his demise. Several hundreds of people made their way to the Cathedral to manifest their devotion to the saintly priest. Most did so just by contemplating him, while some ventured and succeeded in taking a nail from him or a cut from his garments and others put rosaries or other objects in contact with him. His mortal remains were very well preserved, so much so, that a few weeks later the following report was written about him:

They find that Mgr Vella—though buried under a very humid tombstone giving to the North—was in an unchanged condition, except for the lack of the point of his nose. Moreover, someone touched his face and felt it still soft and loose. His right eye was still sparkling, and his face was smiling. We attach no implication to this, nor do we grant facts any importance beyond what a human fact requires, a historical event, intent as we are on abiding by all that Pope Urban VIII[14] demands in his decree.[15]

In the February 1930 issue of Ġesù Ewkaristija, Father Pawl began collecting reports of graces received through Mgr Vella’s intercession. From then to 1940, anyone who shall patiently research every issue will find at least three hundred cases of graces received upon recourse to Mgr Vella. Mention is also made to graces received abroad: in the United States, Australia and Tunisia. In many cases, there is an indication of the nature of the grace received and even the name of the person concerned. Graces of healing from some disease or ailing, and other kinds of help, are reported too. In 1940 publication of Ġesù Ewkaristija was discontinued: all knowledge of graces still received through its founder’s intercession stole away into darkness.

Among Mgr Vella’s possessions, a cilice was found: a rope with many knots and pricking points! His testament, written in Italian, includes these words:

I recommend my soul to the Merciful God, to Jesus in His Sacrament of Love, my Life and my All, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, His and my beloved Mother, to her most chaste Spouse Saint Joseph, to my eponymous Saint, Aloysius Gonzaga, and to my dear Guardian Angel.

The high degree of holiness that the Gozitan Minister of God imprinted in his faithful shines out in the fact that many of them had their Guardian Angel wake them up in the middle of the night sleep, and cast themselves to their knees to adore the Blessed Sacrament, as these verses prove:

Qabel norqod ’l Anġlu tiegħi,
Li b’tant ħniena jindukrani,
Talba nagħmel biex nistenbaħ
U jkun pront dejjem jismagħni.

Malli l-Anġlu jqajjimni
Fl-art nixteħet għarkopptejja,
B’moħħi mmur f’Ġesù u jtirli
Fil-mument in-ngħas u l-għeja.

Ma’ dil-viżta qalbi noffri
Lil Ġesù ma’ tant erwieħ
Li billejl fl-adorazzjoni
B’tant imħabba jagħtuħ ġieħ.

Translation: Before I sleep, I shall pray my Angel, who is so gentle to take care of me, that I may awaken, and he will be prompt to hear me. As soon as the Angel rouses me from sleep, I shall cast myself to kneel on the ground, I shall direct my mind to Jesus, and all somnolence and fatigue will vanish away from me at once. With this visit I shall offer my heart to Jesus with many souls who pay homage to him in nocturnal adoration with much love.

MGR ANTON GAUCI ON MGR VELLA’S MASTERPIECE IR-RUĦ NISRANIJA QUDDIEM ĠESÙ SAGRAMENTAT[16]

There is no doubt that we can easily draw the most genuine and most explicit portrait of Mgr Alwiġ Vella from the books he left behind. Though no more people remain in Gozo who remember him and could give witness to his holiness and wisdom, his works would suffice to tell us accurately what quality of man he was and of what kind were his ideas on life, its problems, and its worth. He was a priest of deep and solid spirituality, which is apparent, we dare say, in every page of his writings, but especially in his masterpiece The Christian Soul before Sacramental Jesus.

The Christian Soul before Sacramental Jesus is tripartite and comprises a total of over one thousand pages containing over 150,000 words. They are forty-one hours, with some supplements on Mass, Confession and Communion in the Second Edition.

It is impossible to read these beautiful pages and escape the postulate that Mgr Vella enjoyed very special assistance from Heaven while writing them. No soul but one as pure, humble and saintly as his, could afford such spontaneous outbursts of pure and supernatural love for our Divine Redeemer, the “Prisoner of Love”. No soul but one having drunk to satiety from the Eucharist’s unfathomable well could give us those treasures of spiritual life that appear on every page of the “Hours of adoration”. This man’s writings reflect his interior, his sentiments, his character—indeed the whole range of his life as it is, with every beating of his heart and with all thinking his mind kept. These three volumes evince Mgr Vella’s total separateness from the world and from its show as well as his concentration on the only topic where he saw any substance: how the soul is constituted and bound with God. The views, warnings and counsels given by Sacramental Jesus to the soul kneeling before His altar, are as many full stores of divine wisdom such as no man, however wise he be, could furnish only from his inner wealth and through his own efforts. We have only to read one colloquy between Jesus and the soul to find something absolutely unearthly in the mind and the heart of the author.

In these pages, we are instructed on every kind of Christian virtue, and this by God himself! He gives us entire lessons in humility and justice, in love to God and neighbour, in patience and meekness, in prayer and charity, faith and hope in God. Jesus warns us to shun coldness in matters divine, pride and worldly interests, disobedience and every kind of sin; He also admonishes us not to waste the time God lends us or the gifts He enriches us with. Jesus shows us the importance of crosses and temporal trials, the worth of sorrows and our conformity with God’s will, and our absolute need for continual address to God in manifestation of love and petition of help in daily difficulties and temptations. He also teaches us to have recourse to God’s Saints, particularly to His divine mother, Mary. The Most Holy Virgin, to be sure, occupies a dearest place in the divine mind and heart of Jesus. He will, therefore, have us choose Her for our Advocate and Protectress and revere Her as co-Redemptress with Him.

With the first glance at any of Mgr Vella’s books, we can notice how well versed he was in the Sacred Sciences, notably in Theology. Entire pages deal with the bliss that is ready for souls faithful to God, with the foulness of sin and Hell with its pains, with Purgatory and the souls that are detained there. We find teachings on sundry sacred mysteries: on God and His Providence, on the Divine Persons and their greatness, on Grace and the wonders it works, on the Redemption that Christ Our Lord brought us, even on the force and beauty of the Holy Sacraments.

From the “Hours of adoration”, it can also be easily perceived how familiar Dun Alwiġ was with Holy Writ. Hence come those many quotations from every book of the Sacred Scriptures—notably David’s Psalms and the Holy Gospel. Hence come also those examples of virtue, those biblical personages that Jesus places before the eyes of the soul for her imitation, the Blessed Virgin and the Redeemer Himself above all.

Mgr Vella sets a life programme before our eyes. He intends to teach us and, to achieve that, he puts the word on the mouth of Christ himself:

Wherefore apply example and words to inflame many thy brethren with love for Me, and thy love will be more powerful to gladden Me […] thou needst to suffer for my sake and sup the very sorrow I have supped.

These words, when all comes to all, summarise Archdeacon Vella’s life, so that Dun Alwiġ was only teaching his own feelings and practice. Even Mgr Vella, as many of us, crossed a sea of bitterness and woe. None the less, he managed his pains and sufferings in a saintly way!

MONS VELLA’S SPIRITUAL AND CULTURAL MERIT

LITERARY CHRISTIAN BEAUTY

Art encompasses every successful human effort to sensibly express some of the uncountable manners and degrees that ideal beauty contains and communicates. In other words, all aesthetic productions tend to be imitations of a unique and universal model. That literature belongs to art, demonstrates itself thus: a perceptible difference separates good from bad writers on the same theme. How do we distinguish? Only from a universal representation attained from an accumulation of intuitive and tested verifications, and not from mere improvisation. The Ancient Greeks called that universal representation art— τέχνη.[17] Pope Pius XII explains this from a different and complementary angle:

Spirit and harmony are reciprocal witnesses: even as a lavish spirit will always be matched by lavish harmony, so every dissonance—whether it occurs in the sciences, in the arts, or in life—denounces some hindrance to the full outpouring of man’s spirit.
Such inter-relation points to disapproving those who spread the cult of disharmony and, as they claim, of absurdity, in the literary and artistic field. What would become of the world and of man if the taste and esteem of harmony were lost? Yet those who attempt to disguise foulness, sin and evil with the trappings of beauty and allurement, aim at this. Indeed, their offense goes beyond the boundaries of aesthetics, to break open the very dignity of man. An image of the divine Spirit, man is affected by harmony and order as essentially connatural to him. […] Art shines with dignity in proportion as it reflects the spirit of man, God’s image, and, consequently, in proportion as it illustrates his creative fruitfulness and full maturity to unfold the divine theme of unity and harmony with works and different life attitudes.
Nonetheless, all the evident testimony of man’s spirit in favour of the harmony of the world, all the possible fruitfulness of his action to develop the germs of order, confront history and life demonstrating his intrinsic insufficiency and weakness. To heal this, the designs of the Creator’s infinite love for his work required that the very Spirit of God became visible and inserted in time. Behold Christ, the divine Word made flesh, coming into the world as into his home, his property, “in propria venit” (Jn 1:11).[18]

What kind of art is literature? It is the art of reflecting in written language the world, or an aspect or element of the same, as exemplary, as worthy of imitation or subordinate participation: if no art fulfils or appears to fulfil that task, nothing can be read with inner enrichment. As regards the exemplary function of art, Pastor Angelicus has a clever remark:

The ordination and direction of man to his ultimate end—which is God—by absolute and necessary law based on the nature and the infinite perfection of God Himself is so solid that not even God could exempt anyone from it. This eternal and unchangeable law commands that man himself and all his actions should manifest and imitate, so far as possible, God’s infinite perfection for the praise and glory of the Creator. Since man is born to attain this supreme end, he ought to conform himself and through his actions direct all powers of his body and his soul, rightly ordered among themselves and duly subjected to the end they are meant to attain, to the divine Model. Therefore, even Art and works of Art must be judged in the light of their conformity and concord with man’s last end.
Art certainly must be listed among the noblest manifestations of human genius. Its purpose is to express in human works the infinite divine beauty of which it is, as it were, the reflection. Hence that outworn dictum “art for art’s sake” entirely neglects the end for which every creature is made. Some people wrongly assert that Art should be exempted entirely from every rule which does not spring from Art itself. Thus, this dictum either has no worth at all or is gravely offensive to God Himself, the Creator and Ultimate End.[19]

True evangelization repeats the ontological order of the objects of Revelation: God, man’s departure from God, man’s return to God. It does not consist in the neo-evangelization proposed by some theologians from the point of view of listeners engrossed by issues affecting them closely, issues taking weight and validity from their socio-cultural system, no matter how un-Christian it is. The final stage of this “spreading God’s word” by absorbing the listener’s mentality, logically shrinks to the betrayal of Christianity.

Authentic Christian literary beauty, with its distinctive elements of truth, unity, order, decorum, and supernaturality, has no regard to the first appetite of any modern reader. It does not depend on trends that would never decide on anything both beautiful Christian, trends producible in countless autonomous and chaotic variations by countless factors neither literary nor supernatural. Christian literary beauty is what has the right to please reason, meditation and faith for its own natural and supernatural excellence, recognizable as religious irradiation or refinement, and for its intrinsic appeal. This appeal is not confined to some terra incognita. It influenced all Christian generations since Holy Scriptures are read in the liturgy of the Catholic Church.

Regardless of what ideas and activities are subject to change in contemporary circumstances, two sets of decisive principles always remain and everywhere the same: those of evangelization, kept by the cumulative Church Magisterium, and those of literature, the patrimony of the best literary masters from Homer till the upheaval of Romanticism. The noblest peak of the human intellect, as it is by nature, is universal and intemporal. Infused Grace, in its turn, surpassing nature, includes the gift of wisdom, which is an inner taste and sense that infuses the soul with affection for divine things in their perceived gentleness and lovability, in their solidity and sweetness. This taste and inner sense filled the Saviour’s soul with joy and consolation, and drew forth these words from his heart: “I confess to thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to the little ones”.[20]

At present, it is fashionable—and it takes no studies—to vilify and ridicule the lover of Metaphysics and Tradition as immature and regressive. This mentality takes its origins from erroneous, Naturalistic, Positivistic, Evolutionist, prejudices, which were already alive hundreds of years ago.

Today, the Catholic who loves his Faith can thus paraphrase the quoted words of Christ: “Yes, Lord, whatever these pseudo-sages say and think, matters stand so: I see, I know and I feel these divine truths, and I judge on them as Thou dost and as they have always done, who have proven to be thine for sameness, virtuous fruits, universality and fidelity to your Church”. The Catholic man of letters takes the following Papal statement on Dante Alighieri at heart:

though he is separated from us by centuries, he has still the freshness of a poet of our times: certainly more modern than some of those of recent days who have exhumed the Paganism banished forever by Christ’s triumph on the Cross.[21]

Authentic evangelization repeats the ontological order of the objects of Revelation: man’s departure from God, man’s return to God. It does not consist in the neo-evangelization proposed by certain theologians as necessarily submitted to the viewpoint of listeners whose only doctrinal concern is themes taking their validity from their social and cultural system, even if it is anti-Christian. This criterion for allegedly “Christian” literature leads authors to the extreme of leaving the listener totally unchanged, mere encounter and dogma-less brotherhood sufficing. On the contrary, authentic Christian literary beauty, with its distinctive elements of truth, unity, order, decorum and supernaturality, does not consist in that which pleases the first appetite of modern readers indiscriminately, nor does it depend on fashions that could never decide on beautiful Christian things. Christian literary beauty is that which derives a right to please reason, meditation, and faith, from its own natural and supernatural excellence, recognizable as religious irradiation or fine-tuning at its intrinsic uplifting attractiveness. This fact was the firm conviction of all Christian generations since Holy Scriptures are read in the liturgy of the Church. Change what may in contemporary junctures, two sets of principles remain ever and everywhere the same: those of evangelization, dictated by the eternal laws of Grace, and those of literature, inherent in the human psyche.

Mgr Charles Émile Freppel[22] gives us interesting criteria for Catholic Literature. The human need for an interior encounter with God, as well as the fact of the Incarnation and the resultant Christian Piety, lead necessarily to sublime eloquence. The prelate indicates man’s tremendous and problematic need to live in his inward part with a God that is clearly close, live, personal and entirely open to the interchange of love, while all that he knows of God is His infinite distance, which escapes any measure and retention, compresses the élan of the heart, and reins back the effusion of the soul. This problem was marvellously solved by the God-and-Man, mankind’s most beautiful acquisition and the most substantial nourishment of inner life. In response to this divine wonder, Christian piety—God’s love at its most delicate and intense—opened for eloquence and poetry a source of extraordinarily fresh and fruitful inspiration, in order to find, almost effortlessly, ingenuousness fraught with charm, unction that sinks in most gently, an accent of tenderness that thrills and enraptures, and a pathetic profound genre that is the whole of eloquence. In fact, Christian piety knew how to create a sort of separate dialect, a dialect of unequaled sweetness and softness; or rather it collected from human tongues all that there was of grace and loveliness to make for itself a peculiar language, a language infinitely rich in its simplicity. This is Mgr Freppel’s compelling view of Christian literature.

It may be claimed that Christian literature, in addition to being admirable and edifying, is a pivotal criterion to understand the West. Here, the fundamental and long-range convictions of Christianity not only appear in doctrines, rites and institutions, but also in all arts, including literature. Shortly ago, Jörg Lauster was right and keen to assert:

the cultural history of Christianity should be understood as a continuous enrichment in the attempt to articulate the surplus of the Christian world experience and to pass it on as an enchantment of the world.[23]

VELLIAN EUCHARISTIC DIALOGUE

Dialogue, in some intriguing manner, is the fundamental and universal mode of human thought, and the imitation of its very movement. Aquinas contends that “Thought (cogitatio) implies some inquiry, for so to think (cogitare) is, as it were, to shake together (coagitare)”. Dialogue makes a monolithic and complex body of ideas intelligible by presenting it in flowing and spread-out succession and division of parts, aspects and properties. Its fluidity, its vivacity and its virtual present time, brand it with dramatism that concerns the reader closely, all the more so if the dialogue takes its full meaning from the reader’s simultaneous acting it out.

Any dialogue imitates and modulates some spontaneous active or passive quest, whether it be important or unimportant. Vellian dialogue actualises the certainly momentous affective quest of Sacramental Jesus and the praying soul for each other. True, the soul’s quest is less sure than her Master’s. Nonetheless, Mgr Vella represents Sacramental Jesus in utmost search for His servant’s search of Him. This He does by offering her His immediacy, His attention and His inward shaping operation. Leaving freedom unaffected, Sacramental Jesus proposes His devotee the virtual blending of Himself with her will—her most crucial and most defining power.

Dialogue is the least textual of texts, as it fulfils best the task of feigning not to be a text. As fiction, the dialogued work simulates a conversation where the author feigns to efface himself, to give the whole floor to his characters, and not to mediate between them and the reader. But in Mgr Vella’s dialogical style there is moral identity between one of the characters—the praying soul—and the reader. The zealously premeditated original conversation, once represented before the reader’s mental vision, becomes his action in conjunction with his venerable dialogue partners in front of the scene of the Tabernacle that houses the Lord. The earthly half of the dialogues takes perfect, though extra-textual, facticity, in the reader who chooses to pray while reading: his mental words are no fiction. The global whole of the dialogues, with an earthly part and a heavenly part, is truthful fiction—in other words, it is truth within a fiction contrived truthfully and in analogy to reality: that dialogical stage is true in respect of the Most Holy Sacrament.

Dialogue in its dramatic devotional variation places religious events immediately in front of the reader on a sacred stage: the speakers’ realistic and credible mental interchanges and interactions are set in a dynamical and animate alternation and complementation loaded with personality and expressiveness. How closer to the reader, indeed inherent to him as his own choices, must be those interchanges and interactions when he adopts them personally from the read text to hold them with the God-and-Man made Sacrament for love to man, and present few metres away!

The meaningfulness of the dialogues that the author created is not limited to its divine and Marian parts. For the soul—though occasionally speaking from her naked nature not exempt from some selfishness and superficiality—speaks, or rather prays, from Grace, and does so at the most dramatic and crucial moments. God’s words in Mgr Vella’s masterpiece may be unbidden or bidden teachings, or exhortations, reproaches, praises, consolations, promises and questions. The latter may be maieutic (meant to extract latent notions from the praying soul) or peirastic (meant to fathom her thoughts, not for God, but for her to know them). The soul’s religious locutions may be invocations in the classical liturgical quartet of adoration, thanksgiving, penance or petition; or they may express love, admiration and pleasant or unpleasant surprise; finally, or they may simply ask about the unknown or little understood. Most important and consequential, her inner speech about God does not occur in the third person singular nor is it self-directed, but it occurs in the second person singular and is directed to God, first about God, then about herself and other persons and things. This is a world of advantage. The name of God in the nominative case may ground spiritual life. The name of God in the vocative case may be spiritual life as long as it implies God himself directly and supernaturally mobilizing the soul. Therefore, the soul’s religious locutions offer an immediate occasion for merit that complements the wonders of God’s speech to the soul.

“Every being has its actuality and its perfection in its production [outcome] and its end”[24] , comments Aquinas on Aristotle. Now, in devotional translation, both source and target texts are beings, as concrete organized bodies of determined and edifying doctrine meant to be put into prayer. Therefore, the production and the purpose of both texts consist in reading souls inasmuch they adore God and respond faithfully to Him. Mgr Vella’s Eucharistic Dialogues consist potentially in them, who are to these both act and fruit.

The Holy Catholic Church has fostered many authors of Eucharistic prayers meant for contemplation. Many wonderfully inspired, and mostly unknown, priestly Frenchmen wrote marvellous books of this kind since circa 1600; Saint Peter Julian Eymard has a kingly status with them. Saint Alphonse Liguori enacted a spiritual revolution with his Visits to the Blessed Sacrament, and several authors from other linguistic areas contributed precious productions to the theme. But Mgr Vella probably excels all by the standards of pathos and vivacity. Perhaps no other Catholic man of letters shows so much and so well to what extent the Real Presence is real and living and entices the believer to utterly frank, spontaneous and effusive communication. The Maltese saintly preacher starts with an emphatic summon to human hearts: “Go directly and enthusiastically to the Most Holy Sacrament from “I” to “Thou”, the sooner the better!” This ever-present and piercing prompting proves how skilled the Gozitan son of the Church was to wreak wonders: he does not restrict himself to leading souls to understand; he also undertakes the arduous task of having them talk, and talk from their bottom, and talk to the living and present God-and-Man.

The Mediterranean master exposes his thought in very peculiar chronological patterns. His tripartite masterpiece enraptures for its intemporal, oceanic, and somehow non-linear, tendencies, which meanwhile by no means compromise well-defined and dominant Theocentricism: they place it above chronological schemata. Mgr Lwiġi Vella indicates no steps in sanctity, except in Hours VII and XII of Part I. The whole work begins with a starting as well as ending point: man’s moving close to God and man’s contemplating God. Surrendered before the flashing vision of the tabernacled Most Holy Sacrament, the soul as an “elder sister” summons herself as “younger sister” to be slow, awake and profound to plunge into the same spectacle she earlier was quick, absent-minded and superficial to consider. Part I concludes with departure and arrival juxtaposed: The soul gives Jesus her heart, and Jesus requires her to take His love, which allows for the double reading of the soul’s love to Him—His supreme gift to her—and His love to her. The combination of the soul’s taking Jesus’ love in its both acceptations is equivalent to her taking Jesus in the most complete and ultimate sense.

We are plunged into transcendent sublimity from the very start, and this so effectively as to enjoy protection from the two main pits in spiritual heights: irreverence and pride—the debasement of the Boundless Being and the exaltation of all-bounded man. The author’s prayers are very demonstrative of his love for the Blessed Sacrament, but this in a manner so outspoken and full-fledged as to render it difficult for readers to go through them unengaged. Like Fra Angelico’s paintings, Father Vella’s pages inspire wonder irrespective of a witness’s willingness to wonder. The loftiness and effusiveness of his words, notwithstanding some purposeful repetitions, have a catching force that immunises them against the least shadow of triviality.

An old phrase—“Caput artis decere”—assures us that convenience is the object and the very nature or essence of Art. Nor can there subsist any doubt that Mgr Vella expresses one sovereign thought in the form that suits it best. This is not all: above this first convenience, other ones, broader and higher, are soon discovered. His style is immediately perceived to teem with Truth at all levels. Dialogues so fluent, lofty, effusive, frank, deeply meant, concise, perfect in distinction, supreme in expressivity and self-mastery, entirely ruled, all informed and vivified by the supernatural, are most apt vehicles for all that divine Grace can cause a eucharistic soul to feel, perceive, think and decide at her most intimate and noble strata.

LINGUISTIC AND STYLISTIC ANNOTATIONS

SOME PROPERTIES OF THE MALTESE LANGUAGE

If national character depends for existence and intensity, among other factors, on racial unity, geographical limits, language, religion, history, traditions, way of life and cultural manifestations, it is no wonder for Malta’s national character to be intense. Because any national spirit is directly related to the spiritual faculties of living men, and because the spirit of Malta is intense, it follows that Maltese persons endowed with intense spiritual faculties are, on twofold accounts, strongly Maltese. Monsignor Vella proves this rule very well. He was not afraid of pouring his national individuality in the works he wrote. These let the peculiar characteristics of Maltese be very much perceived in intertwinement with perfectly universal religious messages. The author does vividly and magnificently put to work the Romancised Semitic and the absolutely original registers of Maltese: bare, tardy, pensive, effusive, sanguine, desultory, and, when all comes to all, strongly mind-carrying.

My dearest friend, One good I own for certain, one good God hath bequeathed me, one good I’ll never lose, whereof the beauty is my delight—Maltese.
Light soars it to the zenith; the same that, riding on the sun, pries wide into the fairest limpidity. The Earth is its spectacle and poisèd re-descent after its will.
Is’t speech white or yellow, or dark blue? Thou canst not tell. Nay anon canst thou see it assume a bee-like shape to visit gardens, fly among the leaves and find its way into all blossom and drink rosaceous nectar best …
Let Beauty’s force enlighten thee in this speech, as if it were a perfect bunch in May. So sweet it smells, that basil sweet, or pennyroyal, sweeten the breeze less; so clean it falls, as to surpass for limpidness the dew that first makes leaves to glitter.
It hath somewhat of moonshine; of lightning somewhat is in it.
Now glideth shy and slow; then swiftly sallieth airborne like a youthful bird.
Now maketh it thine ears perceive some sweetness rich and new, then bursteth it in weeping before thee: some elsewhere unexpressèd sigh becomes her note. What note the sea gives out while whining with the shores, what note the wind loud bloweth midst the branches in the rain.[25]

Efficient and formal causality of the Maltese language on this interesting and beautiful portrait is not only plausible, but virtually certain here. The experience exists and points at the language; the language exists and might well cause the experience.

The basic remark follows immediately, that the English linguistic registers differ enough from the Maltese ones as to render difficult the traffic of indefinable and subtle states of the soul. The question “Whence art thou?”[26] that Pilate made to Jesus facing from his Prætorium balcony a great Jewish crowd gathered at a major Jerusalem square conveys an impressive sharp and wide thrill in Maltese that seems to correspond very well to the solemnity and drama of the circumstances in which it was made and not answered: “Mnejn int?”

The Maltese from Mgr Vella’s time is derived from the Maghrebi dialectal Arabic as regards its morphology and the lexical half comprising concrete and simple concepts, and in addition from Italian and Sicilian as regards the lexical half that includes more abstract and cultured concepts. At Mgr Vella’s time the number of English loanwords in Maltese was negligible, and we have not found a single of them in his pages. Having suppressed many vowels, Maltese is rich in monosyllables. Examples would be “gvern” (from “governo”) and “sptar” (from “ospedale”), or “mnejn” (from “min ajna”) and “ktibt” (from “katabtu”, “katabta” or “katabti”). Maltese roots of Semitic origin always consist of consonants, generally three. They are apt to be distributed in fundamental morphological schemes ruling the placement of radical consonants (which maintain their successive order), vowels, and accessory consonants.

These morphological schemes contribute part of the meaning, so that Semitic Maltese words—unlike Indo-European languages—give room to mix the morphological with the semantic level: the geometrical scheme that receives the word tells something about its meaning and somehow “adds root to the root itself”. [27] Maltese Semitic-grounded morphology also differs from Indo-European in allowing for abundant and frequent non-concatenative elements. This means that numerous verbal and nominal morphemes—root and word pattern—are intertwined within each other, and not linearly added one after the other. For example, whereas the English plural of “star” is created by “chaining” a final S, the Maltese the procedure is often different: the vowels of the singular “kewkba” are rearranged to form “kwiekeb”. Morphologically non-concatenative words and propositions are hardly found in Indo-European languages. They have the peculiarity of activating a particular brain zone, which also functions to decode emotional linguistic stimuli. This zone operates at a slightly slower rate, which could explain the meditative propensity of Maltese. We cannot decide with certainty whether these cerebral facts are influential for Maltese to be more powerful and directly active on emotions than Indo-European languages. However, a principle from Scholasticism is striking if inspected. Saint Thomas points out to potencies diffused by the only to a specific part of the body to perfect it, [28] which he illustrates by the example of the ear and the eye not receiving each other’s perfection from the soul. It could be thence inferred that the brain zone specifically sensitive to non-concatenative morphology—abundant in Maltese—receives a peculiar perfection of the soul that lacks any alley to a brain perceiving a language deprived of that feature. This conjecture gains strength at the light of Maurice Olender’s remark: [29] Semitic languages, though less adapted than Indo-European ones to multifaceted Nature and to rationality, are fundamentally musical and emotional and intensely fertile in dazzling moments of powerful intuitions that would vanish if oriented in the Indo-European plurality of time and space.

STYLISATION

Stylization is the search for the literary effects of language; in other words, the attempt to find expressive and suggestive ways to enhance the power and penetration of language. This work includes all the meta-logical aspects of words, syntagmas and propositions, all that transcends the communication of facts or ideas: affectivity, emphasis, tone, figures of speech and thought, and also purely aesthetic factors such as rhythm, symmetry and euphony.

Beautiful diction is not its own end but is inspired by its theme, which it serves by pouring beautiful words out of beautiful thoughts. The stylized does not take away the natural, and the natural is not equal to the elementally spontaneous. Distinguished and archaizing language can and should be natural within its special legitimate and authentic nature “with a right to exist”: it is clearly within the nature of human language to be sometimes distinguished. This literary fact is understood by contemplating an equivalent from the world of music: playing Bach well requires the naturalness and immaculateness of a little one; his music is like a child, that is, a human being who is physically an incredibly complicated machine, but whose soul, in its remote background, is clear, diaphanous and perfect.

As a periphrastic translator, we have contemplated the literary and spiritual reality created by the author, which we have attempted to transpose into a sui generis representation that develops, where and as suitable, the literal meaning after the spirit yielded by deep and empathic meditation. There is a good reason for this. In the case of a mystical source text meant to convey not only meanings, a spirit or spiritual movement as well, the translator must not only understand meanings, however accurately, but also adopt the spirit and engrave its objects in his intellective, volitional and sensitive soul.

Necessary or recommended stylistic flexibilities in the translation of a spiritual text should be taken as faithfully as possible from the inner light shed by the original. The translator, while keeping the original prose, may want to render it more expressive, and therefore closer to verse, to honour a spiritual light that demands to be spread and refracted in the most dignified way. This task may require to maneuver text structures with discernment and poise. The target style becomes thus the first effect of the source contents in the translation and behaves as the orbit of a planet in respect of the sun.

Let us take a verse from the Prophet King and Poet after God’s heart, David. It belongs to Psalm 6, “De profundis”, verse 7:

I have laboured in my groanings, every night I will wash my bed: I will water my couch with my tears

Another man of letters, more than two millennia later, from the Era of the Saviour that David announced and expected, Anglo-Saxon in culture, produces a literary adaptation. We refer to Thomas Brampton, who published parts of the Psaltery in heptametric verse in 1414. Below is his version of the same Davidic passage.

My travail is, both night and day,
To weep and wailè for my sin:
With bitter tears I shall assay
To wash the bed that I lie in.
Whosoevèr heaven will win,
In endless bliss e’rmore to be,
This verse he must often begin,
Ne reminiscaris, Domine!

Does this wrong the original? Is there a covert claim to be a “greater David” who writes “improved psalms”? No way: he produces the same message with literary resources providing a more elaborate style: but derived, sprouted as from seeds, from the semantic and aesthetic virtualities of the original. Far from extolling himself and his work, he magnifies the king of Israel and his religious poems, calling his words wonderful enough to inspire and deserve a versified and rhymed periphrasis.

Be it pointed out, by the way, that an essential aspect of stylization is the use of new figures of speech and thought. Their rhetorical effect comes from the dialectical interaction between the perceived degree⎯⎯e. g., “watering one’s couch with tears”⎯⎯and the conceived degree⎯⎯e. g., driving distaste and unhappiness for one’s offences against God to overwhelming intensity. This effect concerns both the author of the statement, since it bears the imprint of his style (ethos) and its recipient, whose knowledge or frame of mind (pathos) are modified by the figure.

Let a final remark be made on stylizing translation. The possibilities of stylizing, from the superficial vocabulary to the depth of thought and logical implications, going through the intermediate layers of syntactic structures, rhetorical figures, paraphrases and locutions, and including the arduous resource of versification, are a bottomless sea. We have done our best and hope that it is acceptable.

Intelligent and consistent stylization so modulates the expression of a thought, that it brings its ideal effect to bear. The ideal effect of thinking of the Blessed Eucharistic Sacrament is intense devotion to it, and English conscientiously polished and enriched with archaisms, we contend, encourages such intense devotion.

Let us illustrate this with two examples of style fit and unfit for a given message and atmosphere. Here is a verse from a Eucharistic song by Monsignor Vella:

It should first be pointed out that, while despoiled and familiar terms have often been used to distil sweetness, vigour and sublimity in the source language, in the target tongue this task has called to its aid words, expressions and structures of a rhetoric, poetic or archaic kind. This has been done in the manners and occasions that appeared opportune to us. That devotional English literature breathes best in a dense atmosphere of style, is easy to prove. Two devout petitions to Jesus put in literary Maltese will be first quoted. Their magnificence, force, acuteness and proportion are patent to anyone who can read that language with medium proficiency.

1.
Ma nafux bil-kliem ngħidulek
kemm nixtiequ li npattulek
id-disprezzi tal-ingrati
li jġagħluk bihom tant tbati.

2.
La tħallix bid-dnub tittabba’
Il-qalb tagħna f’ġieħ l-imħabba
Li t-tajbin iħobbuk biha
O Ġesù, fl-Ewkaristija.[30]

Let now the above strophes be transferred into plain Present-day plain English with fullest possible literality.

1.
We don’t know how to tell you with words how much we wish to make amends to you for the indignities of the ingrates who force you to suffer so much with them.

2.
Do not allow our heart to be stained by sin, to the honour of the love with which the good love you, Oh Jesus, in the Eucharist.

What is perceived? Weak, cold and hollow shadows, gracelessly creeping along shapeless ground, miserable to achieve reverent fidelity to the emotion of the original, which, of course, is an integral part of it.

The above bilingual examples evince the pitfalls of sustained literality in certain texts, and the inescapable need to re-stylise while translating them. This holds good even for the sake of a safe, pure and true reproduction of the meaning as far as this can be done from Maltese lyric, devotional and dialogic style into English. Indeed, this has often obliged us to have Mgr Vella’s Englished message quite differently “scented” than the original is to a Maltese-reading person. Still, we have far preferred this to translation of the scentful by means of the scentless. We would accordingly think of two equally trochaic-metred translations for the above strophe, as follows.

1.
Where Thou art, there is no tonguing
How intensely burns our longing
That we may be found good righters
Of Thy smarts at thankless slighters.

2.
That by sin our hearts grow tainted
Never suffer, Saviour sainted;
This all loves to Thee will brighten
In the shape that does Thee whiten.

Stylized, archaized and versified versions not only describe actual spiritual situations, but should enhance them, making them sound harmonious, relevant, alive and Christianly supernatural. Suitably added art that articulates and highlights spiritual situations intensifies their perception remarkably.

Care and not mechanical literality has been given supremacy. There must appear some manner in any spiritual production, and manner should follow substance and furnish it an additional, though accidental, determination. An unbecoming manner can only harm a spiritual production in its very substance. The latter being consistently high and extraordinary in Mgr Vella’s work, so should the former. Indeed a Catholic translator who takes to heart Catholic prayers that he undertakes to translate, is supposed to practise the principle “Watch and pray” while performing his task.

ARCHAISATION

The devotional Christian literary genre, even viewed impartially or “from the outside,” has gained a special brilliance and status from its inherent claim to represent dense and comprehensive intelligible systems on a scale unmatched by any other type of literary text. The archaizing mode, denoting reverence through its calculated hint of temporal and spatial distance, is ideal for dealing with the Being of beings: a timeless diction resembles an immutable divine language.

In a sacred milieu, special criteria and rules of conduct apply to man whose nature transcends the virtually indistinct continuum of daily life. High away from mundanity, authentic sacred literature carries the key of highlight. It never degenerates to the modern pseudo-religious misstep of a demagogic treatment of the reader, which, in its very pretence of friendliness, is actually patronizing and cold. The disappointed reader only finds common, flat, undistinguished linguistic uses “good for every man at every place”, where grandeur, purity, finesse and irradiation were expected. Archaising religious literature approaches the reader as a lady or gentleman in whose soul God and God’s realities are alive. A different way of living and functioning, claiming greater dimensions and a better atmosphere is offered to a present lived as oppressive.

The treasure sought by the archaizing writer is authenticity, purity and a bond to origins that need imply no regression or denial of a late stretch of Mankind’s walk. Archaism can be viewed as the remote new creation of a lost and inaccessible world, a solemn mausoleum housing a different and superior language. Archaizing phraseology situates the reader, as it were, in a walled city of certainty, protected against all doubt and negotiation regarding its special riches.

We deem it probable that many a cultured English-speaker, were he to fathom his mind’s last depths without sliding into utter lack of stay and light, could do a remarkable verification. Well below conceptual reflexive awareness, but in response to English as a living entity, he perceives well-applied Archaisms with approval and spiritual pleasure. Words, idioms, morphemes, figures and structures traced back to past generations behave like gentle friends who attach his confidence, and their long delayed return from vanished glories in faintly remembered traits only charm the more fondly and enthuse the more keenly.

GLOSSARY

Only those acceptions are given, which are employed in this book. Many words are of exclusive archaic, rhetoric or poetic use. Only everydeal is obsolete (though virtually archaic, for it was still used long after Shakespeare), and no word is solely dialectal or colloquial.

a- prefix: 1. Used in compound adverbs derived, in Old English and early Middle English, from prepositional phrases made up of on/a + a noun (e.g. abed, afield). On the model of these, many compound adverbs of place, time, and manner (and derived adjectives and prepositions) have been formed from nouns, as atop, astream, abeam, adoze. 2. forming de-substantival and deverbal adverbs and derived adjectives and prepositions. This usage, inspired in the first one, for all its archaic flavour was only introduced in the second half of the 17th century: “Sends them all a-bristle and a-scamper”. 3. joined to a verbal noun or gerund, forming part of a verbal expression, expressing action, with a verbal noun or gerund taken actively. After be (or occasionally another verb expressing state) and before a verbal noun: engaged in (some activity). The 1884 New English Dictionary states: “In literary English the a is omitted, and the verbal noun treated as a participle agreeing with the subject, and governing its case, to be fishing, fighting, making anything. But most of the southern dialects, and the vulgar speech both in England and America, retain the earlier usage.” This acceptation of the prefix is still used to convey archaic flavour. Thus, the 1961 version of the 1775 Christmas Carol God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen, has: “The shepherds at those tidings rejoiced much in mind, and left their flocks a-feeding in tempest, storm and wind, and went to Bethlehem straightway, this blessed Babe to find”.

account for: to explain. We have made frequent use of this elegant and today widely used term denoting causality (corresponding to Maltese għalhekk, għaliex and għax). It was first introduced in 1643 and therefore unknown to Shakespeare.

adumbrate: To represent the shadow of (anything), to draw or figure in outline; to outline; to sketch; to give a faint indication of.

Adverbs without final –ly: These were very common in Early Modern English. Examples: “No man spake clear, equal, or without artifice” (Paul Rycaut, 1681); “This proclamation was fair written in parchment” (Thomas More, 1535). We have often used this with adverbs that would end in –ously in –lessly in Present-day English.

agape: From Greek ἀγάπη, charity. The divine agape is an unreserved, eternal commitment to the human creature, and therefore to the particular human creature. The divine agape is driven by the need to give of itself generously. Agape is God’s love for man. It is spontaneous and “uncaused”; that is, there is no quality or worth in the object of God’s love which could possibly have evoked agape. Apart from agape, fellowship with God is unattainable. We have used this words only to translate the author’s frequent term “dan is-Sagrament tal-Imħabba” (which occurs 164 times) with “this Sacrament, the Masterwork of Divine Agape”. We have done so sometimes, in order to escape over-repetition of the word love, and also because it is a beautiful New Testament Greek word borrowed into English. In the New Testament, this word is most representatively found in 1Jn 4:8: “ὁ θεὸς ἀγάπη ἐστίν”.

aim as “desired outcome; end aimed at; objective; purpose” and goal as “object to which effort or ambition is directed; destination of a more or less laborious journey”: these two words in those senses, so current today, first replaced much older mark circa 1600. Of course we have used both.

aliment: nourishment.

amain: 1. In, or with, full force; with main force, with all one’s might; vehemently, violently. 2. Exceedingly, greatly.

amorous: In the original, the noun love (mħabba) occurs 2182 times and the verb to love (ħabb), 1778 times, both adding up to 3960 occurrences. We have sometimes used this Romance word and its adverbial derivate to avoid overly repetition of the Anglo-Saxon verb and noun love and derivates): Loving, affectionate, devoted, ardent. Examples in English literature: “Those amorous impetuosities that are in men and tend to piety or impiety” (T. Gale, 1677); “An amorous vehemence against sin” (ibid.); “The amorous quest of the soul after the Good” (R. A. Vaughan, 1856).

anon: Now at this time, in contrast to at that time, presently again; here again.

antonomasia: The substitution of an epithet or appellative, or the name of an office or dignity, for a person’s proper name

appetible: Worthy of being sought after, desirable.

archaic: Of language: Belonging to an earlier period, no longer in common use, though still retained either by individuals, or generally, for special purposes, poetical, liturgical, etc. Thus the pronunciation obleege is archaic in the first case; the pronoun thou in the second.

Archaic plurals: Early Modern English, and even later poetic English, retains few old Anglo-Saxon n-plurals: eyne, fone (=foes), housen, kneen, treen; although the s-plurals came into use already in the 12th century. On some occasions we have used eyne, but not when preceded by mine, thine, to avoid repetition of the consonant n. We have always written brethren.

at no hand: On no account, by no means.

aver: To assert as a fact; to state positively, affirm.

aught: Anything, anything at all; something.

ay: (pron. A) Ever.

aye: (pron. I) Interjection indicating assent to a previous statement, and preliminary to a further or more forcible one.

bale: Evil in its passive aspect; physical suffering, torment, pain, woe. ◊ Mental suffering; misery, sorrow, grief. We have used this word, as well as suffrance to render the Maltese noun tbatija, which the author uses often.

Bare de-adjectival nouns of quality: In English, substantival forms for qualities are usually rendered by addition of Germanic or Latin suffixes to adjectives: –ness, –hood, –ity, –itude, etc. The substantival form refers to the abstract quality and the adjectival to the sensual. The felt quality of the world amounts to mere adjectives, but the ultimate definitional uniqueness of that quality is conceived intellectually in terms of nouns, and, paradoxically enough, only negatively and, as it were, against a void. The senses “perceive” positively or cataphatically with the warm light of the sensually concrete. The intellect, on the other hand, “perceives” negatively or apophatically with the cold light of the immaterially abstract. The simplicity and purity of Beauty redeems the chaotic, mixed-up sensuality of the beautiful. Yet it belongs to the tasks of Metaphysics not only to render abstract what is sensible, but conversely, because, as Aquinas would have it, “universals do not move” (Summa contra gentiles, lib. 3 cap. 5-6 n. 11). The reality signified by qualitative abstractions is not effectual on a human soul unless it bathe ceaselessly in the living water of images. The static and the dynamic harmonise perfectly. Each man has his own incommunicable manner to realise a universal quality and remains free to live it in the manner best adapted to his mentality, but that universal quality remains objectively the same in everyone. The idea, without losing anything of its essence, is adapted to all concrete forms of expression: but, ultimately, remains the substantial food for souls: “All the dignity of man consists in thought”, said Pascal. —After this prolonged introduction, we should like to indicate that Early Modern English would sometimes use bare adjectives as abstract nouns: fair for fairness, clear for clarity, sweet for sweetness, bitter for bitterness. We have found no reason to follow this ambiguous and crude usage. As to our Maltese original, it keeps the distinction perfectly established, using Semitic substantival suffixes for Semitic adjectives: sabiħ/sbuħija, tajjeb/tjubija, ħarex/ħruxija, and Romance substantival suffixes for Romance adjectives: fedeli/fedeltà manswet/manswetudni, debbuli/debbulizza.

Bare deverbal nouns: Present-Day colloquial English amply makes nouns from verbs without any suffix added: a break, a comeback, a find, a guess, a laugh, a look, a move, etc. This very modern English coloquial usage has, paradoxically, its literary Early Modern English counterpart, for example: an adorn (adorning, ornament), an arrive (arrival), a have (possession), an impose (imposition), an entreat (entreaty), a protract (protraction), a vary (variation). And this usage we have left unfollowed.

be-perfect: Early Modern English, like Middle English and Modern German, French and Italian, and unlike Late Modern English, normally built with the auxiliary to be (and not to have) the perfect tenses of verbs of motion such as arrive, come, creep, depart, enter, fall, flee, fly, go, grow, meet, retire, ride, rise, run, set, turn. But, unlike German and Italian, (er ist gewesen/geblieben/verschwunden, è stato/rimasto/scomparso), this was never used in English with intransitive verbs denoting state, nor, unlike French and Italian (il s’est réveillé, si è svegliato), with reflexives of verbs that would otherwise use to have.

behove: To befit.

bide: To remain or continue in some state or action; to continue to be (something). ◊ to let a thing bide: to leave it alone for the present. ◊ To remain in residence; to sojourn, dwell, reside.

boon: noun. A favour, a gift, a thing freely or graciously bestowed. A gift considered with reference to its value to the receiver; a benefit enjoyed, blessing, advantage, a thing to be thankful for. ◊ adj. Gracious, bounteous, benign.

boot: To do good; to be of use or value; to profit, avail, help.

but introducing a condition: If not, unless, except. Example: “He is of an ill inclination, but he be forced”.

caitif: noun. Expressing contempt, and often involving strong moral disapprobation: A base, mean, despicable ‘wretch’, a villain. ◊ adj. Vile, base, mean, basely wicked; worthless, ‘wretched’, ‘miserable’.

certes: Certainly.

Childie: We took the freedom to use this affectionate diminutive, although it cannot be called “Archaic”. It is found in American 19th-century religious literature.

communicate: Receive Holy Communion. Maltese tqarben.

Compound numerals from 21 to 99: Old English used the type one and twenty, which survives in Modern German. Incidentally, this is also the Arabic-originated current Maltese usage. The Present-day English type twenty-one appeared at the end of the 15th century under French influence. We have used the first type on the only occasion to do so.

Contractions: In Present-day formal English composition, contractions (such as I’ve, he’s, they’re) are considered colloquial, low-code and to be avoided. This was not the case in Early Modern English, which even used several contractions that would seem unusual today. The pronoun it dropped the vowel: ‘tis, ‘twas, ‘twere, ‘twill, ‘twould, is ‘t, was ‘t, do ‘t, to ‘t, in ‘t, on ‘t. The article the dropped its e and was contracted to a noun beginning with a vowel: th’almighty, th’eternal, th’infinite, and very often to th’end that followed by subjunctive before the introduction of in order to. So was the preposition to: “t’accept and yield t’adulterated love” and the infinitive of be: “to b’in love”, “thou must b’a king”, “He to b’Englands General had consent”.

darkling: adv. In the dark; in darkness. lit. and fig.

D.D.: from Lat. Doctor Divinitatis, Doctor of Divinity. British doctoral title in Christian Theology.

Deipara: Mother of God.

Doomsday: the day of Last Judgement.

do, periphrastic: In English, from the 15th century onwards auxiliary do developed as a morphological marker of person and tense in interrogative and negative sentences where no other auxiliary tensed verb was present. So throughout the Early Modern English period there was a choice between the newer usage of interrogating and negating with auxiliary do preceding the main verb (as in modern English in Do I say that? and I do not say that) and the older usage, that survived in other Germanic languages, of interrogating by placing the verb before the subject (as in Say I that?) and of negating with the adverbial form not following the verb (as in I say that not). This change affected interrogative sentences earlier than negative ones, and some frequent monosyllabic verbs were late to follow the change. The older use survives in Archaisms as can be seen in Lead us not into temptation. On the contrary, Archaic English often uses periphrastic do in a case where Present-Day English does not: in some verbs used in the Simple Past of the second person singular thou: “thou didst preach”, instead of older and cumbersome “thou preachedst” and newer “you preached”. This usage applies in particular to polysyllabic Romance verbs. The periphrastic use of the verb to do, (e.g. “those things we do esteeme vaine” as opposed to “those persons we esteem vain”) arose in Middle English. In negative and affirmative direct questions (e.g. do or did you (not) love?), and negative declaratives and imperatives (e.g. I do or did not love, do not love) it virtually displaced the non-periphrastic uses (love(d) you (not)?, I love(d) not, love not) by 1700. After the do-construction had completely displaced the non-periphrastic one in questions and negatives, its use in affirmative declaratives became, in the 18th century, a marker of emphasis.

dost/doth vs. doest/doeth: The shorter forms are auxiliaries; the longer ones, principal verbs.

Double comparative: This Early Modern English usage combined the adverb more and the er-prefixed adjective: more crueller, more stricter, more swifter. Shakespeare, who often uses this form, is fully justified by the best authorities of his time. We have not used it.

Double superlative: This Early Modern English usage combined the adverb most with the est-prefixed adjective. Not esteemed bad grammar in Shakespeare’s time. This, adds Johnson, “Is a certain kind of English Atticism, or eloquent phrase of speech, imitating the manner of the most ancientest and finest Grecians, who for more emphasis, and vehemencies sake, used so to speak” (English Grammar, ch. 4). There is a peculiar emphasis and propriety in the phrase most Highest, when applied to the Almighty, which occurs in the Bible and Liturgy; but, in other cases, the proper grammatical form is generally preferred and used.

dulcet: Sweet to the eye, ear, or feelings; pleasing, agreeable; soothing, gentle.

eke: Also, too, moreover; in addition.

ere: Before.

erst: “Once upon a time”, formerly, of old. arch. or poet.

eth: Archaic verbal ending of the 3rd person singular of the indicative, which coexisted with –(e)s in England for a long period. We have used it throughout with the verbs to do and to have, except when the following word begins with th-, and sometimes also when it begins with h-. The Douay-Rheims Bible uses only this ending for the corresponding inflection. The Catholic Bishop Richard Challoner (1691-1781) alternates this form with –(e)s in His English translation of The Imitation of Christ. We have followed the English usage of this ending from around 1600 according to M. L. Samuels’ remark in Linguistic Evolution, that monosyllabic verbs, apart from those ending in s, z, ch, ge, favour –(e)s: runs, lives, but riseth, preacheth. To this rule we have added the use or non-use of –(e)th according as the statements bear or not dogmatic, elevated, crucial or poignant character.

everydeal: adv. In every part, in every respect; entirely, wholly. Although it is classified as obsolete by the Oxford English Dictionary, we have taken the exceptional liberty of reviving it for its effectiveness and its unique correspondence with the adverbs everybody, everywhere, everywhen used in the Fifth Hour. The latest recorded appearance of the word occurred in 1714: “There ev’ry deale my Heart by Love was gain’d”. (Gay, Sheph. Week v. 79)

excruciate: fig. To torture mentally, inflict extreme mental anguish upon.

excruciation: The action of causing or the state of suffering extreme pain; an instance of this.

fain: A. adj. Glad, rejoiced, well-pleased; disposed, inclined or willing, eager. ◊ B. adv. Gladly, willingly, with pleasure. Frequent in I/he/etc. would fain.

fair: The principal Early Modern English to denote a person, thing or fact endowed with attractive appearance, corresponding to Present-Day English beautiful.

fell: Cruel; dreadful, terrible.

filiation: The process of becoming, or the condition of being, a son.

Final infinitive: It is a standard Germanic grammatical feature, found in Old English, to place an infinitive of purpose or aim at the very end of a clause, right after the direct object. This order was widely altered in Middle English. It survives in literary Early Modern English: “See Nature, rejoicing, has shown us the way … the happy season to invite” (Purcell, 1694). We have used this resource on some occasions.

fore– prefix: This was very often made use of in the 16th and 17th century with any verb to which it was desired to give the additional meaning beforehand, previously, in advance; often corresponding to Present-Day English pre- Examples: fore-acquaint, fore-answer, fore-bespeak, fore-bless, fore-comprehend, fore-exist. Also used in participial adjectives: fore-created, fore-made, fore-remembered, fore-specified, fore-wished and nouns: fore-being, fore-building, fore-living, fore-schooling, fore-choice, fore-consent, fore-determination.

flood: In wider sense: water as opposed to land. Used especially in the alliteration field and flood.

fordo: To do away with, put away, remove.

gratulation: A feeling of gratification, joy, or exultation; rejoicing in heart. (Now only implying self-congratulation upon some good fortune.)

hallow: A holy personage, a saint.

hence, thence, whence: here, there and where as points of departures. Also used figuratively and with a sense of time.

here— + preposition suffixed: the relevant preposition + this, these or (more rarely) it.

hereto: To this matter, subject, etc.; with reference to or in regard to this point.

hereunto: Unto or to this place; to this thing, matter, subject, etc.

hight: To name, to command, to promise, and related senses.

his genitive: In Early Modern English the supposition arose that the possessive –s was short for his and there appeared phrases such as “the king his crown” for “the king’s crown”. The heyday of this construction was the late 16th and early 17th century. We have avoided this use as departing from English grammar an history.

hither, thither, whither: here, there and where as points of destination. Also used figuratively and with a sense of time.

hitherto: Up to this time, until now, as yet.

hold one’s peace: To remain quiet or silent; to keep silence, refrain from speaking.

holocaust: A sacrifice wholly consumed by fire; a whole burnt offering. Hence, transf. and fig.: a complete sacrifice or offering.

Hostie: Host, in the sole sense of the body of Christ as really offered sacrificially, kept, and received under the species of bread.

if and though omitted after as: This was used to express a comparison with a hypothetical fact or state expressed by the subjunctive, and it is an example of an English construction held dead in the 18th century yet resurrected in the 19th in archaising usage: “As stout and proud as he were Lord of all”.

howbeit: However it may be; be that as it may; nevertheless; however.

hyperbaton: A figure of speech in which the customary or logical order of words or phrases is inverted, esp. for the sake of emphasis. Many examples are found in Early Modern English literature: “I could a tale unfold whose lightest word would harrow up thy soul” (Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 5); “all mankind must have been lost … had not the Son of God, in whom the fullness dwells of love divine, His dearest mediation thus renewed” (Milton, Parasise Lost, Book III, line 225). Classic yet ever relevant Roman Rhetorician, Quintilian commends hyperbaton keenly: “Hyperbaton, also, that is, verbi transgressio, ‘transposition of words’, as the harmony and beauty of composition often require it, we rank, not improperly, among the excellences of language. For speech would often become rough and harsh, lax and nerveless, if words should be ranged exactly in their original order, and if, as each presents itself, it should be placed side by side of the preceding, though it cannot be fairly attached to it.” (Institutes of Oratory, Book VIII, ch. 6.) Hyperbaton is found even in ecclesiastic Latin, though less frequently than in the Classic Age. See, for example, this prayer composed by Bishop Fulbert of Chartres (ca 951-ca 1029) and used for various Marian feasts: “Concede nos famulos tuos, quæsumus Domine Deus, perpetua mentis et corporis sanitate gaudere: et gloriosa Beatæ Mariæ semper Virginis intercessione, a præsenti liberari tristitia, et æterna perfrui lætitia.” A word-by-word English translation of this would be felt as an unacceptably exaggerated twist of words: “Grand us servants Thine, beseech we, Lord God, perpetual mind’s and body’s health to enjoy, and through the glorious Blessed Mary ever Virgin’s intercession, from present to be delivered sadness, and eternal to enjoy gladness”.

in order to (followed by verb): This widely used, meaningful and useful English construction to express the purpose of doing or achieving some end or outcome, is not very old. It was first introduced by the Douay-Rheims English Catholic Bible in 1609. It is unknown to Shakespeare and to King James’ Protestant Bible. Earlier, other constructions such as to the end that and so as to were used. We have used it often to translate Maltese biex and sabiex.

infract: Unbroken; unviolated, unweakened; sound, whole.

Inversions: It is a syntactical rule common to all modern Germanic languages that, when a clause starts with an adverbial element or an object, the verb should come next and the subject should follow. This was standard Old English usage and subsided in Middle English. It still occurred, perhaps in as many as one-third of sentences, in 16th century English. Examples: “And hereof cometh the destruction of the reprobates” (James Bell, 1581); “My case is hard, but yet am I not so desperate as to revenge it upon myself” (Holinshed’s Chronicle, 1587); “The ceilings and joists maketh he of cedar” (Coverdale’s Bible, 1535). At the bottom of this usage can be conjectured a logically and ontologically well grounded reluctance to place the mode of an action, passion or event closer to the subject than to the verb, thus to keep an accident of an accident, an accident of a substance, and a substance, in hierarchical ascending or descending order, either 3-2-1: “Well wrote Thomas” or 1-2-3: “Thomas wrote well”, but not 3-1-2: “Well Thomas wrote”. We have used this syntactic feature not as a general rule, but only when intending to emphasise the sentence-initial adverbial element or object.

–ive suffix misused: This termination is borrowed from Latin –ivus (whence French –if and Italian, Spanish and Portuguese –ivo are derived) and traced back to the Proto-Indo-European –iHwós, an extended form of –wós cognate with Ancient Greek –εῖος. In English, regularly and properly, it gives deverbal adjectives an active signification, more exactly, the sense “having a tendency to, having the nature, character, or quality of, given to some action”, as Latin –ivus from which French –if and Italian, Spanish and Portuguese –ivo are derived. The meaning differs from that of Germanic participial adjectives in –ing (from earlier –ende surviving in Modern Germanic languages) and Latin –ant, –ent, in implying a permanent or habitual quality or tendency: cf. acting/active, attracting/attractive, coherent/cohesive, consequent/consecutive. This rule is not always preserved by English Early Modern writers, who occasionally give a passive sense to adjectives in –ive. Two Shakespearean examples: “The protractive trials of great Jove” (Troilus and Cressida) mean protracted; “Nor th’ insuppressive mettle of our spirits” (Julius Cæsar) means insuppressible, not to be suppressed. We have avoided this usage counter to clarity and Latin etymology.

Jesu: This word frequently appears in sacred English texts as a poetic form of the name of Christ. It comes from the vocative declension of the name Iēsus in Latin. In English, the name has two main pronunciations: GEE-zyoo and GEE-zoo.

ken: Mental perception or recognition.

lancination: Piercing pain; acute agony.

Latin past participle endings: In the course of the 15th century hundreds of loanwords in -ate, –ite, –ute and –t entered English, via French, or, more rarely, directly from Latin. It was at that time that an increasing number of Latin past participles were employed as English present stems. At first the same form could function as an infinitive or a participle, but during the sixteenth century new, “regular” past participles, with -ed added to an –ate/-ite/–ute/-t stem, replaced the old ones. On the other hand, in some cases an archaic past participle without -ed continued to be used into Early Modern English (e. g. create, corrupt, institute for created, corrupted, instituted) but generally the -ate verbs became entirely regular. Conversely, some –ate/-ite/–ute/-t forms today used only as adjectives, were used with verbal force. We have kept the distinction clear in our choice of words.

lief: Beloved, dear, agreeable, acceptable, precious. Also lief and dear. Cf. German lieb, Dutch lieve and Swedish ljuv.

list: (a) Const. inf.: To desire, like, wish to do something. (b) Without dependent inf.: To wish, desire, like, choose.

listen: Alternatively used in archaic English as a transitive verb without the preposition to.

lore: That which is taught; (a person’s) doctrine or teaching. Cf. German Lehre, Dutch leer and Swedish lära.

make: To do, to be occupied in anything: “What make you here?” that is, “what brings you here?”, “what is the occasion of your coming or being here?”, “what are you about?”. Very frequently used by Shakespeare.

meseems (meseemeth), meseemed, methinks (methinketh), methought: It seems/seemed to me. (Used with dependent clause or parenthetically.)

metanoia: Penitence, repentance; reorientation of one’s way of life, spiritual conversion

meward, theeward, etc: adv. towards me, thee, etc. ◊ adj. directed towards me, thee, etc.

mine, thine: Early Modern English alternatives of my and thy before a vowel or an unaspirated H. We have used them, but not before aim, ever and own, which lead to phonetical confusion with name, never and known.

murk: Darkness. lit. and fig.

nay: (a) A word used to express negation, dissent, denial, or refusal, in answer to some statement, question, command, etc. Now arch. or dial. In older usage nay (like yea) was usually employed when the preceding statement, etc., had no negative word in it; when a negative was expressed, the usual answer was no (or yes). (b) Used to introduce a more correct, precise, or emphatic statement than the one first made.

ne: conj. Neither, nor. In 18th and 19th century use archaic and poetic. Examples: “Ne did she e’er complain, ne deem it rough” (Shenstone); “Ne could we laugh, ne wail” (Coleridge).

Negatives, duplication of: In Early Modern English this was very common. It had a reinforcing, rather than an annulling effect: “Ask not for me, nor add not to my woes”. We have never used this illogical feature.

needs: adv. Necessarily.

nigh: Near.

nill: As a modal auxiliary: to be unwilling, not to will, with implied infinitive taken from the context. Now arch. ◊ As a main verb, trans. Not to will (a thing); to refuse, reject; to negative, prevent from happening, etc. Now rare (arch. in later use). The simple past form nould was last recorded in Henry More’s 1642 Ψυχωδια platonica; or, A platonicall song of the soul: “Then they … desired, That he nould break this happy union” and is classified by the Oxford English Dictionary as obsolete.

noctidially: For nights and days. Classed as obsolete by the Oxford English Dictionary, we have used it once, though.

nott: Archaic English Present Indicative form for all persons but the 2nd singular of wot not, in Present-day English do/does not know.

nould (simple past of nill followed by bare infinitive): would not, was unwilling to. The last recorded use is found in Henry More’s 1642 Ψυχωδια platonica; or, A platonicall song of the soul: “Then they … desired, That he nould break this happy union”. Classified by the Oxford English Dictionary as obsolete, we have, however, used it twice.

O, oh: Both are interjections. The first one precedes an apostrophe or an invocation in elevated or tragic style; no punctuation mark intervenes; always written in capitals. The second one is used to mark an interpellation or an exclamation, of which the various intonations may express joy, pain, surprise, etc; usually followed by a comma or an exclamation mark; written with small letters.

obsolete: That is no longer practised or used; fallen into disuse; of a discarded type or fashion; disused, out of date.

of course: These two words used as an adverbial phrase to mean “naturally, as will be expected in the circumstances; for obvious reasons, obviously”, although a common integral part of Present-day English even at a perfectly academic or formal literary level, were first introduced with that sense in 1823. Therefore, their insertion in an archaising English text would be questionable. Instead, the phrase “in course” with nearly equal meaning, was introduced in 1722.

of introducing the agent after a passive verb. We have sometimes used this preposition to translate Maltese minn. After circa 1600, of is found as a stylistic archaism in biblical, poetic, and literary use. The use of of is most frequent after past participles expressing a continued non-physical action (as in admired, loved, hated, ordained of), or a condition resulting from a definite action (as in abandoned, deserted, forgotten, forsaken of. It is also occasional with participial adjectives in un-, as unseen of, unowned of. Of often shows an approach to the subjective genitive: cf. “he was chosen of God to this work” with “he was the chosen of the electors”.

opprobriate: To cover with opprobrium; to speak abusively or contemptuously of or to.

out of peradventure: out of the realm of uncertainty, beyond question, without doubt.

outlove: To outdo or surpass in loving.

parthenian: Of, relating to, or characteristic of a virgin or virginity; that is a virgin; unviolated, pure. The Oxford English Dictionary classes this adjective as obsolete, and instead accepts much newer parthenic dating from the Victorian age. The word parthenian, however, was used as late as 1892 by W. W. Peyton in The Memorabilia of Jesus: “Nature is not cheated of her rights when a parthenian birth takes place in the human family.

perpend: To ponder, consider; to examine, investigate.

philanthropy: Love for men. The Greek epithet Φιλάνθροπος is applied to Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom.

philotheism: Love for God.

Polysyllabic simple superlatives: Early Modern English built simple superlatives of comparison for adjectives of more than one syllable: certainest, perfectest. But, as in Present-Day English, all superlatives of eminence for adjectives and adverbs of whatever length is built with the adverb most placed before.

pray!: used parenthetically to add instance or deference to a question or request. Our preferred translation for the Maltese Italian-originated interjection deh!.

prithee: ‘I pray thee’, ‘I beg of you’; please.

proffer: To bring or put before a person for acceptance; to offer, present, tender.

quoth: (I, he or she) said or spoke.

Reflexive pronouns: In Early Modern English the earlier use of the simple objective pronouns me, thee, etc. as reflexive became restricted largely to poetic use: “get thee to a nunnery” (Shakespeare, Hamlet). We have not used this.

replenish: This verb, under the acceptation of “to endow a person fully or abundantly with something”, is classified as obsolete by the Oxford English Dictionary. However, it was widely used by Bishop Challoner in his translation of Kempis, and was used well into the 19th century. We have used it.

resipiscence: Repentance for misconduct; recognition of errors committed; return to a better mind or opinion.

rood: The cross upon which Christ suffered; the cross as the symbol of the Christian faith.

sans: Without. Used chiefly with reminiscence of Shakespeare. Examples include: “My love to thee is sound, sans crack or flaw” (Shakespeare, 1598); “Therefore, sans favour and affection, take thou, my boy, thy own election” (T. Bridges, 1762); “And my blows unpaid, sans stakes, sans victory, sans everything I had hoped to win” (G. B. Shaw, 1901).

sapience: Wisdom. A learned synonym. Cf. Latin sapientia, Italian sapienza, French sapience and Spanish sapiencia. Examples include: “‘Honour all men’ is one of the many texts of combined sanctity and sapience with which the New Testament abounds” (J. S. Blackie, 1874); “That letter written with the unerring sapience of a saint” (F. W. Rolfe, 1901).

science: Irrespective of study and system, the state or fact of knowing; knowledge or cognizance of something; knowledge as a personal attribute.

Sequence of demonstrative + possessive + noun: this thy son. Used in Early Modern English instead of present-day this son of yours.

shamefastness: Modesty, sobriety of behaviour, decency, propriety; bashfulness, shyness.

sith: Seeing that, since. Very common from c1520 to c1670, being frequently used to express cause, while since was restricted to time. After 1700 apparently obsolete, but revived by early 19th century writers.

skill: With inf.: To know how to do something. Also with how.

somedeal: In some degree or measure; to some extent; somewhat.

somewhile: On some occasion(s); sometimes. Freq. in the latter half of the 16th century.

somewise: In some way or manner; to some extent.

sooth: Truth.

sore: adv. So as to cause mental pain or irritation; deeply, intensely.

sore: v. To make sore, in various senses; to give (physical or mental) pain to.

sprent: Past participle of sprenge: sprinkled.

substratum: That which underlies, or serves as the basis or foundation of, an immaterial thing, condition, or activity; the basis on which an immaterial “structure” is raised.

supereminent: Lofty above the rest; supremely or specially high.

swart: rhet. or poet. “Black”, wicked, iniquitous. Cf. German schwarz, Dutch zwart and Swedish svart.

sweeting: A “sweet” or beloved person; dear one, darling, sweetheart.

tabernacle: v. To keep in a tabernacle. Examples: “In any church in this land in which Jesus is tabernacled and has found a home (“Tablet”, 1891); “The real presence of God … tabernacled in yon loving place” (“Catholic News”, 1896).

that: In archaic usage, consequent relative clauses with a personal antecedent are preceded by that when the clause defines him, her or them; by who only when it does not. Thus: “The angels that rebelled fell to the pit”, but “The good angels, who were graced, now dwell in blissful light”. Present-Day English has lost this distinction and uses “who” in all consequent relative clauses with a personal antecedent.

theanthropic: At once divine and human.

therefor: adv. formal or arch. For that (thing, act, etc.); for that, for it; by reason of that; for that reason, on that account.

therefore: adv. In consequence of that; that being so; as a result or inference from what has been stated; consequently. Sometimes classed as a conjunction.

theretofore: Before that time; previously to that.

there— + preposition suffixed: The relevant preposition + that, those or it.

thole: To be subjected or exposed to (something evil); to be afflicted with; to have to bear, suffer, endure, undergo. Cf. Swedish tåla. Examples in English literature: “Of bitter death now may I thole the scours” (D. Lindsay, 1559); “What loss, what crosses dost thou thole!” (A, Ramsay, 1717); “They that believed nothing were to thole all revealed punishments” (E. A. Freeman, 1884).

thou: The most typical and most frequent English archaism. Beautiful, it was the last to expire in standard English literature, and was widely used well into the Victorian age.

tone, tother: the one, the other.

tribulated: Subjected to tribulation, afflicted.

travail: Bodily or mental labour or toil, especially of a painful or oppressive nature; exertion; trouble; hardship; suffering. arch.

trow: To believe (a statement, etc.); to give credence to, accept as true or trustworthy.

twain: Two. Usually follows the noun.

unaspirated initial h: Three centuries ago, in English religious literature, the initial h of some words, aspirated today, was alternatively not, and so we can read an heart, Thine Holy Spirit. We have not used this.

unbosom: refl. To disclose or reveal one’s thoughts, secrets, etc.

unto: We have made scant and selective use of this Archaic English preposition to translate Maltese lil and (non-temporal) sa. Most times we have used ordinary to. It is curious for Europe’s language richest in monosyllables to use, unlike all modern Europe’s Indo-European national languages, a bisyllable for the elementary concepts of destination and caused possession (when the latter is not indicated by the dative case): zu, tot, te, du, до, do, të, dtí (which share with English to the Indo-European root de, do); also, from other roots: til, till, nach, naar, við, a, à, an, aan, ar, åt, at, in, i, į, la, w, v, в, во, na, на, u, ў, у, ją, në, le, σε. Armenian bisyllabic depi is, to our knowledge, the sole exception to the mentioned rule apart from Archaic English unto. This English preposition can, in poetical writing, be placed after a noun or pronoun.

verbal forms, archaic: In addition to 2nd person singular endings in –est and 3rd person singular endings in –eth, Early Modern English had special simple past and past participle forms for verbs that are perfectly current today. Thus: spake for spoke; holpen, holden, for helped, held; wan for won; raught for reached, wroke for wreaked, smit and writ for smitten and written and other instances.

vicariously: By substitution of one thing or person for another; by means of a substitute.

weal: Welfare, well-being, happiness, prosperity. We sometimes use it for Maltese ġid.

ween: To expect, anticipate, count on; to surmise, suspect; to think possible or likely.

welkin: The apparent arch or vault of heaven overhead; the sky, the firmament.

wherefor: adv. For which.

wherefore: adv. (a) For what? esp. for what purpose or end? (b) For what cause or reason? on what account? why? (c) On account of or because of which; in consequence or as a result of which. Chiefly with n. (esp. reason or cause) as antecedent. arch. (d) Introducing a clause expressing a consequence or inference from what has just been stated: On which account; for which reason; which being the case; and therefore.

where— + preposition suffixed: the relevant preposition + what or which. This archaic construction, as compared with the current one, may be taken to attach less determination, singularity and force to the antecedent, or to emphasise the preposition.

whether: Which of the two: “Whether dost thou profess thyself, a knave, or a fool?” (Shakespeare)

whilom: adv. At some past time; some time before or ago; once upon a time. ◊ adj. That existed, or was such, at a former time; former.

whist: Silent, quiet, still, hushed; making no sound; free from noise or disturbance. (Usually pred.) Also advb. = silently, quietly, without noise.

wight: A human being, man or woman, person. (often, but not necessarily, implying some contempt or commiseration).

wit: v. (present indicative: 2nd person: wost (obsolete); remaining persons: wot. simple past and past participle: wist.) An archaic form of the verb to know corresponding to G. wissen and Fr. savoir as distinct from G. (er)kennen and Fr. connaître. See the relevant explanations at the heading “Linguistic Annotations”.

y- past participle prefix: We have not used this. It is a very old feature of English of ages past, already archaic in Early Modern English. Germanic in origin though unknown to Gothic and Scandinavian, it survives in modern German and Dutch, as well as in south-western English dialects. In the 16th century it was adopted as an archaistic feature from Chaucer and Lydgate by many poetical writers, among whom are Phaer, Sylvester, Arthur Hall, and, above all, Spenser. In the 17th century Henry More is a prominent user of these past participles, and in the 18th century Thomson and other Spenserians have many examples. Some of the most commonly occurring words are ybent, ybound, ybrought, yclad, yclept, ydight, ydrad, ypent, ypight, ywrought. Sometimes this prefix took the alternative form a-, now surviving as dialectal in the English South-West and in the American South, and which should not be confused with another, much later, and rather low-code verbal a- prefix: See above.

yclept: As past participle: called (so-and-so), named, styled.

ye: The subjective form of the personal pronoun for the 2nd person plural, as distinct from the objective you. Very archaic, but not yet classed as obsolete. Bishop Challoner replaces it with you.

yea: adv. (a) A word used to express affirmation or assent. In older usage yea (like nay) was usually employed when the preceding statement, etc., had no negative word in it; when a negative was expressed, the usual answer was yes (or no). (b) Used to introduce a statement, phrase, or word, stronger or more emphatic than that immediately preceding: = indeed; and more. Often practically coinciding with nay adv., which however properly expresses the contrast in degree between the statements, etc., whereas yea expresses their identity in substance.

yede: Went. Still used, though rarely, in Early Modern English. We have left this long superceded usage out.

yon: A demonstrative word used in concord with a noun to indicate a thing or person as (literally, or sometimes mentally) pointed out.

yonder: adj. With the. Farther, more distant, “other”.

HYMN TO MONSIGNOR VELLA

Dun Alwiġ, hail, string divine,
star on Gaulos’ crest ashine;
to this globe thou wast long hid:
now to rule be once more bid!

While withdrawn in arcane shadows,
thou deserv’st the call of Hallows;
who, with ease that proves fire strongest,
in Him melt’st, for whom thou longest.

Who thy kindness will scan ay
which to thee failed to portray
while in humbleness deep lost
thou wouldst banner high the Host?

We have heard thee, soulful preacher,
through whom God bides our close teacher.
Thank thee for thy jewell’d pages;
reign for ay with Love’s grand sages!

PART I

AUTHOR’S
SECOND EDITION DEDICATION

TO OUR LORD JESUS,

SON OF GOD
AND SON OF THE VIRGIN MARY,
ETERNAL PRIEST
AFTER THE ORDER OF MELCHISEDECH,
PURE VICTIM AT THE SACRIFICE OF MASS, PRISONER OF LOVE AT TABERNACLE, SOLACE AND LIFE IN HOLY COMMUNION, TREASURE OF ALL MERITS
AND EXEMPLAR OF ALL VIRTUES
IN THE EUCHARIST:
PRAISE, REVERENCE AND LOVE
NOW AND FOREVER

(AUTHOR’S PREAMBLE)
TO THE DEVOTEES OF JESUS
IN THE BLESSED SACRAMENT

“I burn with thirst to be loved and honoured of men in the Blessed Sacrament”
(Our Lord to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque[31])

Dear Christian soul, all my scope in handing thee these “Hours of Adoration” is thy increased acquaintance with the manner of love that is due to Jesus in the Sacrament of the Altar. Many forget Jesus in this very sacrament of His love; others remember Him without due worship; others, again, attempt to offer Him such worship yet fail to it (maybe with a better mind). Unacquaintance with their Master hinders these from devoting a quarter of an hour to contemplating, addressing and hearkening Him in His presence. Finally, many herein proficient are hardly, if at all, apprised of Jesu’s life at Tabernacle and of the wondrous virtues that He sets before our eyes there. These hours of adoration will not have been written in vain if they get this gap filled.

The four main ends[32] of the Sacrifice of Mass have set the pattern for each of these hours of adoration. These four ends are adoration proper, as well as thanksgiving, reparation, and petition—four acts addressed at Mass by Jesus as a Victim for our sakes to the Eternal Father.

Christian soul, thou mayst happen to read many loving words to Jesus that thou find thyself unfit to pronounce at the sight of thy misery. Nonetheless, if unable to mean them, thou mayst still draw at least two benefits from them: First, to know what love should kindle thee before Sacramental Jesus; then, to get thyself placed in thy nothingness and humiliated before Jesus. Thereby will such words greatly benefit thee as means to acquire the virtue of humility—thy major credential before the Blessed Sacrament.

Pray Jesus that my writings may redound to His glory, to thy welfare, and to mine.

Lwiġi Vella

FIRST HOUR
THE LOVE-LOCKED PRISONER

Vere tu es Deus absconditus, Deus Israel Salvator.
Verily Thou art a hidden God, the God of Israel the Saviour.
Is 45:15.

FIRST QUARTER OF THE FIRST HOUR
Adoration[33]

S: Come, my soul, and spare a glance for our liefest Lord in Holy Tabernacle[34] imprisoned out of Love to us that naught forelived. Under sunlit skies, and when stars sail aloft, our very God abides here, constrained in ceaseless expectation of our visit. Stopping by a prisoner carries the mark of Charity, the more if his state ensueth no fault: what, then, if it obeys Love, and that of very thee? Let this marvel raise up our faculties, my soul: the kind and rank of this Love-locked Prisoner let us here perpend. He is our liefest Jesus, Son of the living God and Son of the Virgin Mary. Jesus, our Redeemer, our Father and our Teacher; whose presence encompasseth, in incomprehensible plenty, whatever is worth longing for: whose absence naught, save gall and cares, can fill.

My soul, of Him that indwelleth this Love-built Prison, what shall we set forth? He is the Might that called into being whatever once was not; He, the Wisdom that grasps and metes out as much as stays or stirs[35]; He, the Goodness that defies exhaustion; He, the Forgiveness wholly open to the last breathing wrongdoer. He is the Smile of Angels; He, the Bliss of Saints; He, the Solace of Virgins; and He is the Desire of what hearts Love hath schooled well. He is our sweet and gentle Lord Jesus Christ.

O Jesu, Thou the Centre of comfort and love in Heaven and Earth, pray, what makest Thou at Tabernacle? Why hast Thou pleased indwell such Prison?

J: My beloved Soul, I keep to this Love-built Prison for the weal of the selfsame souls My Blood hath ransomed. From this place I make true such profusion of graces, as the inexhaustible Source of all Good can promise. What soul resorteth humble and contrite to Me, findeth her Life. Dead, I resurrect her; blemished with sins, I cleanse her in the Purple of the New Covenant; sick, I heal her; blind, I restore her sight; heavy-hearted, I quicken her; cold, I kindle her; weak, I strengthen her; strong, I sanctify her! Now, My Soul, as to thee, wherefore art thou come unto My presence? What is thy aim?

S: O Lord, is the whole of my thoughts and desires not patent before Thine eyes? Because Thou knowst them, O Ground of all! all actions are themselves. So, prithee, why enquirest Thou my aim? Knowst Thou not what harvest my visit, what new day my soul wanteth? O Thou most prized and sought Inheritance to mine inner self! I am come to embrace Thee, to gain Thee and to enjoy Thee, in whom is my life’s whole Delight. What Thou here doest, my Creator, Thy starting Love begot: what I Thy creature here accomplish, my love responsive yields. Thou bearest solitude and stayst for me: I move to Thee and give Thee company. Whoever visit prisoners[36], in Heaven’s Kingdom is lavished Thy gratitude: what not then he, that visits Thyself in Tabernacle for our sakes imprisoned?

Askest Thou me, O Jesu, wherefore I am come to Thee? Search Thou, I pray, into mine inner self: what secret thoughts Thy ken alone shall pierce, that do Thou in my mind inspect. What shalt Thou find? Thou shalt find that I am come to sink in regard of Thy divine Sovereignty and to attach myself unto Thine utter Lovableness. Yes, O Jesu, I adore Thee most profoundly as my God by Love encelled. Thou hast called me with Love’s tenor: I have attempted a concordant answer.

I most worshipfully offer Thee all my thoughts, desires and deeds, this day and for ay. O Jesu mine, whenever I be away from Thy Love’s Prison, hither will I summon my mind and heart unto adoration and love of Thee. If Thou watch my memory to faint me ever, O Jesu, bid Thou one of Thine invisible adorers admonish me hence,

“In Prison, for thy love, thy dear God bides alone;
in Him one sole desire: thy heart’s response to own”.

Which said, O absolute Treasure of my soul, shall be enough so to fly me back to Thee, that, where I be soever, thence my thoughts may in sparrow’s wise wing their flight hither to adore and love Thee.

J: Dearly beloved Child, who wishest oftentimes and everywhence to fly thy thoughts to Me! Having even now resorted hither to visit, adore, and love Me, heed thou My request: from all earthly vanity[37] do wholly and forever disentangle thy heart, draw nigh, lovingly to chain the same to Mine.

S: Jesu, I humbly entreat Thee, be Thy rede in me accomplished, that, even as my heart is presently clung to Thy Tabernacle in adoration, so it may remain for evermore.

SECOND QUARTER OF THE FIRST HOUR
Thanksgiving

S: Jesu, how verily good Thou art! All love is totally referred to Thee as to its worthiest Demander, its strongest Magnet and its innest Spring. Reigning in celestial Jerusalem the King of Patriarchs, the Master of Apostles, the Doctor of Evangelists, the Fortitude of Martyrs, the Light of Confessors, the Purity of Virgins, the Crown of all Hallows, the Glory of Angels, Archangels, Thrones, Dominations, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Cherubim and Seraphim[38]—here below keepest Thou to Prison out of pure Love… No sign disclosest Thou of Thy Power, Wisdom and Glory. O Jesu, what humility cloaks Thy divine Person, and what poverty, too! What silence settles wide and still by this Abode! Why, O beloved Jesu mine, hast Thou pleased to confine Thyself to this Prison?

J: My Child, a nigher insight at My present circumstances shall bring the reason homer to thee. Joseph, Jacob’s good son, suffered imprisonment for loyalty to Purity[39]; Saint John the Baptist, because of his zeal for My Glory[40]; Saint Peter, the prince of the Apostles, out of obedience to My behest[41]. Now, beloved Child, as for Me, which of virtues is Mine imprisonment to be laid upon? Their entire set and plenteous range: Love in ruling place!

What power in Heaven, Earth or Hell could detain Me for a twinkling?

What breathing wight, what living light, were capable of this:
that he against th’Almighty hold the smallest ground of his?

Before My life-surrender for thy sake at Gethsemani, a whole armed regiment was unavailing to arrest Me: infer thence how, a fortiori, upon My rise to Celestial Glory, all attempts on Me must faint and fail! But Love? Lo! What violence My Love to thee brings to bear in My Heart, dearest Child! What lengths it is gone to! For it hath reduced Me, the Universal Lord[42], to servitude in amorous Prison; and it hath put Me, the King of kings[43], in subjection to all. Yes, I, the Ruler of such as rule, have rendered Myself to My creatures for theeward fondness! How further could I prove thee, dearest Child, that, for frankness, truth and strength, My Love to thee is absolute, nor can it ever step or end or faint?

S: Pray, O Jesu, Thou my truest Good and chief Delight, let that be enough! Of Thee alone have I known and pierced Love in its pure essence, for in Thee alone doth it exist in unrestricted fullness. No lesser Love than Thine could stand ingratitude as mine unwaning. What wight, ever so kind, should suffer me with unwearied affection, had I wronged him as sore as Thee, O Jesu? When as I face Thy presence and survey my life, O fair Lord, there stir within me feels of fright and shock… Biting awakening! To mark that Thou, the God of my heart, wouldst bide in that Love-built Prison for my sake what time I gave Thee the back! Shame on me! I drove Thee forth of my heart at so many reprises! Infatuated, I went fond of creatures; perverted, I bartered Thyself away for them. Yet Thou, O Angel of Great Counsel, keptst calling and pursuing me… Why, didst Thou love me still?

J: My Child, all trace of what thou sayst is undone in My Memory out of Mine overwhelming Loving-Kindness to thee. Keep this alone in mind, that thou’rt come hither to submit some moments to the sweet Rulership of My love. Love expect I from thee now. Let times past bide.

S: Thou, Jesu, hast forgotten mine ingratitude out of unfaltering Loving-Kindness to me. But can this anyway, can this any day be in my power: to expunge from my memory the offences I inflicted Thee? Be that as it may be, let Thy Mind prevail: that I doff ruth and don Thy love awhile. Spare me then allowance to give Thee most effusive thankfulness. Yes, Jesu, I thank Thee for Thy Goodness, this unfailing brand of Thine every dealing with me. I thank Thee for this Sacrament of Love. I thank Thee for the marvellous Love with which Thou hast deigned choose Tabernacle for Thine Abode, whencefrom Thou didst so many times maintain my soul, to choose her, too, for Thine abiding place.

What strength Sol storeth not, Himself to beam, that strength swell up my heart, Jesu, such Overlove to thank!

THIRD QUARTER OF THE FIRST HOUR
Reparation

J: My Child, Mine Eternal Father hath lodged all things in My hands[44]. I He am, who is to hold all humankind to strictest account at the End of the World: no vain thought, disorderly desire or idle word shall escape My judgement. At present, howbeit, I abide at this Gaol of Love as a Prisoner standing upon his trial. Yes, Men can fashion their judgements about Me and give Me their sentences ere Doomsday come. Thou canst do as much, My Child. What manner of sentence givest thou Me?

S: O Jesu, Judge most righteous of my conscience, my heart lies bare before Thee: Thou knowest well which Theeward sentence it contain. None like that of Thine unthankful people that judged Thee guilty of Death on Cross; not that of Pilate’s; not a sentence of fearful withdrawal, of oblivion, or rupture; no sentence, in fine, except the sole one Thou deservest: mine unhalting accession to Thee, to have Thy bounties ever nourish my memory and unceasingly fuel my soul’s brazier. Now, O Jesu, what is keeping Thee imprisoned for my sake but Thy Love to me? And what, if not my love to Thee, hath carried me hither unto Thy presence? Which, if not a mirroring sentence, doth Love call for by worth, give forth by nature? Now, Jesu, my sentence is love complete and unremitted to Thee alone. And this sentence I wish sealed with amends for all the offensive human judgements inflict on Thine enshrinement at Tabernacle.

J: Oh, human judgements about Me… beloved Child, behold their range! How much offended My Heart is at the spectacle I catch from within this Love-built Prison! I watch pass by Me many an icy visitor, whose flat disbelief in My voluntary imprisonment for his sake I perceive only too well. And while he pries about My House intent on multiple human handwork, he hath no salute for My dole. I can see many others, and those allegedly My friends, walk in to hail Me scarce more reverently than did My deriders at Pilate’s Prætorium. Yet others visit Me, but only to gall Me to the quick by poise, dress, looks, words, thoughts. And what shall I say of sacrilegious communicants? ‘Tis Me their breasts do lodge conjointly with the opponent of My cause! Oh, what ignominy to Me, My Child! Oh, what offence! Oh, what martyrdom for My Heart!

S: O beloved Jesu mine, what compassion stirs within my bosom for the offences and dishonouring deeds that storm Thine all-gracious Shrine! How I wish to sublimate my whole being to love both pure and strong, such disdains to expiate and compensate! Oh, that full bloodshed might capacitate me to atone for all the miserliness, both religious and affective, of the throng whom signal graces Thine would claim transformed into all-enamoured Seraphim! O Jesu, for such slights that undergoes Thy divine Person here incarcerated and enshrined, please to find some reparation in the grief they cause to this poor heart of mine, and in the surrender of the same to Thee. Lord, have mercy upon so many blind! Beacon them unto acquaintance with Thy Love and spur them hither unto reciprocation. Remember, O good Lord, how much Thou hast suffered for their sakes. Forget not them, who provide scope to Thine earthly confinement. O Thou Whom everlasting hills desire, vouchsafe such graces as may exert upon them mighty attraction unto Thee. Forgive them, Lord: discernment of their own acts is no good they can boast[45].

FOURTH QUARTER OF THE FIRST HOUR
Petition

S: O good my Jesu, whom care for my soul’s weal bows even unto self-confinement to a Tabernacle! Thy gracious allowance being this, that I approach, and full friendly address Thee, I venture to inquire into Thy divine Person’s occupation and manner of life at this sanctuary.

J: And well thou mayst, My Child. Here I stand a perpetual sacrifice; here I immolate Myself to My liefest Father as thy loving Victim. Here at all times I am ablaze with the Love I’ve ever borne thee. Here I restless pray and suffer, sigh and long for thee. Here I perpetuate what I for thee and all Mankind wrought in the throes of My Crucifixion: I impetrate from My Father pardon for thy sins; I entrust thee in My Mother Mary’s hands; I manifest thee the thirst for love wherewith My Heart pursueth itself; I promise thee Paradise.[46] Oh, My Child, how great is the Affectionateness I entertain for thee at Tabernacle! I await thee patiently, thee I do invite, call and hasten; I draw thee mightily as well as sweetly[47], because thou art the object that My care maintains; thy sainthood, the object that My Will pursues.

S: Beloved Jesu mine, Thy words avail: I have taken in. Dispense with new assays to secure my love! They are superfluous!

J: No. Here I do more for thee. I always receive thee with affection, I gladly accept thy every visit, I maintain thee with My Body and Blood, I commiserate for thy cares, I heal thy wounds, I strengthen thee with My Grace. I give thee My own Self with all My possessions and merits. Thee I vivify and rouse up from dullness; thy thoughts I lift from deceitful objects worldly to such as are supernatural and divine. I turn thy soul into a Paradise.

S: O Lord, let such affecting account come to a halt. It hath already struck my heart and illumed my mind with sweetness and clarity past speech. O bosom Friend, O Thou my Love in Prison, how good and merciful Thou art! How well the sunny threads of Thy sovereign loveableness capture me! How other-worldly is Thine affection to my soul! How could I not hope of Thee the crop and cream of my sublimest desires?

J: Speak out to Me, My Dear, what thou feel want of.

S: Jesu, very Omniscience, Thou markst my needs better than I. I beg Thee all that is rightly necessary to my two substantial principles. But my chief prayer bids Thee steer me to love Thee fully and supremely; bids Thee draw me fast unto Thy Tabernacle. And for Thee, O fair Lord, what wishest Thou of Thy servant? For aught to rise my gift unto Thee, two principles suffice: Thy Will, my power.

J: My Child, while I bide in loving imprisonment, I desire the approach of hearts humble and disengaged from the World, faithful and perseverant. I wish to have them offer Me what love, regard and reverence most men refuse Me in this Sacrament. I desire sinners to convert, My dear souls in Purgatory to be done suffrages for, My Church to ascend to Triumph. Beloved Child, I wish thy heart joined to Mine in prayer, silence, suffrance and love unto the propitiation of My Father’s offended Justice and unto the Salvation of the souls that I have bought so dearly.

S: O sweetest Jesu mine, whom Love to me doth gaol, I have taken Thee. And so doth my heart bleed as I face Thee incarcerated in the Eucharist, where all breathes Love, while so many men make out naught thereof. Debt in affective lines to Thy great Love crosses countless multitudes: Thee they forsake and forget. Such a tragedy oppresses me indeed, but, woe is me! The sorer I mourn for my withered vows, for my long and black calendar of thanklessness and dislove. O kind-hearted Jesu, O Love-locked Prisoner, pardon me! Whatever Thou dislike in me, blot out. Forgive, O great Saviour of Mankind, all my brethren in whose mind the marvellous Love, that Thou hence betoken’st us, gives out no light. Forgive them, for they grasp not what there is meant, to slight Thy glorious Boon. Wretched them! Thick ignorance is walling them from Thee, their hearts’ only Solace and Rest. They fail to apprehend Thou art here to souls Paradise tabernacled. Attract them with Thy divine Grace and beacon them unto the knowledge and love that are Thy due.

O Saint Mary, Mother of my liefest Love-locked Prisoner, and merciful Mother mine, turn, I beseech Thee, true love unto the Eucharistic Lord into my habitual Grace. Preserve it, too, within me till He, in Holy Viaticum, last visit my breast. Thus be it ensured that my fire for Him, united to Thine, flare fix in the City of Light for perpetual eternities. Be it even so.

SECOND HOUR
AMOROUS CLARIFICATIONS

Inveni quem diligit anima mea.
I found Him whom my soul loveth
Cant 3:4.

FIRST QUARTER OF THE SECOND HOUR

S: All hail, sweetest Saviour! Behold me prostrate at Thy feet before this adorable Sacrament of Love. Hither am I come to spend one hour in Thy company. Thee, my God, my Darling and mine All, will I full frankly and freely address; with Thee shall I open my heart to its hiddest folds, no stain left unavowed. Ask Thou me this day, O Jesu, who hath brought me unto Thee and what I am come to do, I shall forthwith answer:

My Leader is and bides Thy Loving breath,
My aim, a chest of love to Thee ‘yond death!

J: My Child, speak the ways that good inspired habit led thee on to very Me.

S: O good Lord, Thou knowest my history quite, indeed as downright as I never could. Thou knowest what compassionate intervention was Thine to reclaim me, nor missest Thou what ghastly lot had gript me in Thy remoteness. Woe is me! Whereof art Thou putting me in mind, O my Jesu? Good sense, wisdom and sanity were not with me! I left all outposts of Thy Home of Grace in pursuit of wretched pastures: creatures detached from Thee. Therein did I picture the sources of my happiness; thencefrom expected I my lovesick heart’s fill of comfort and peace. Deluded me! Vanity of vanities[48] and vexation of spirit was all their yield[49]; mine inmost recesses did they with disquiet sting; their whilom dazzling pleasures once extinct, they only swelled my foregoing bitterness.

J: How hath Love carried thee onwards unto Me, My Child?

S: O Jesu, it was a moment sealed of Thy Grace and Love. Thine infinite Mercy disclosed, Thou didst reveal Thyself as the One who, Creator of my heart, is the sole, sovereign and necessary Compasser of its rest[50]. In some mode unknown to me, I felt gravitating and drawn unto Thee; I acknowledged mine ingratitude, bemoaned my sins, returned to Thee as the prodigal son. And Thou, good Lord, foreign to aught stern, didst welcome me in Thine arms with radiant Affection divine: the sparkle of Thy love was lit in me some happy day. And now, now at length, I find accomplished comfort, crowning delight and inmost felicity in frequenting Thy Tabernacles, in conversing with Thee, and in hearing Thy mellifluous voice within my heart. So am I today run unto Thee, O dearest Treasure mine, as a hart affected with thirst—yea thirst so long-tormenting[51] Thou alone canst trace back its onset.

J: Do now speak, My Beloved; address Me with full ease; unbosom thyself; thy wishes make thou manifest. What, if not perpetual heed to thee, is placing Me here? Most fain shall I thy wishes grant.

S: Jesu, I would gladly hear Thee dispel a doubt that haunts me. Indeed the same should yield to proofs heaped upon my way by the thousand, but I swear Thy personal answer from Tabernacle to my soul shall awake to a newly kindled, vaster and worthier love to Thee.

J: What doubt wishest thou dispelled, dear Child?

S: Jesu, after I surrendered thy divine friendship to so many ravages of sin, ingratitude and coldness, holdest thou to me? Lovest Thou me as had I never offended Thee?

J: O Child of Mine, I lay no blame on thine ignorance, but mark, thy question runs better from Me to thee. Oh, shouldst thou comprehend the wonder of My Love! It constituting all, not a thing hath entity except by it. Feats of eminence forfeit all sense without My Love: with it, unusual worth pervadeth minute deeds. If it were once precluded from the Halls of Light, Love left them breathing Hell’s despair: invited to the very abode of murk, it were full mighty to implant the fill of Bliss therein[52].

S: O Jesu, great marvel is Love, in whose might it lies to turn utter torture into the possession of God! So much the rather, my Beloved, do I implore an answer to my question… pray… lookest Thou upon me with a loving eye? I will learn that and thank Thee duly.

J: Doubtest thou, My Child? Bethink somewhat whither My Love of thee hath carried Me. Turn a look at Calvary and another at this voluntary reclusion: thereat answer Me thyself whether My Love of thee leave room for increase!

SECOND QUARTER OF THE SECOND HOUR

S: Jesu, Lord mine, though briefly represented to my mind, Thy heroic Love nailed to the Cross and Thine Acme of Bounty translated into this Sacrament ravish forth of me their own extolling:

Thy Love, O Jesu mine, arrests my sight;
its shine brings worlds full day and deepest night.
Of measure and of frontier it knows none;
Ignoring termination it lives on!
In odd estrangement Thy Love would not sift
From what can come to such, what is full Gift.
The skill the loftiest dreams to bring to life
Apply it did for me unto last strife;
In fine, whate’r Thou call’st Thy property
Hast will’d, O Jesu mine, to share with me![53]

I have reason to wonder, kindest King. Yet full contentment eludes mine inmost being: mightily reflected though Thy Love be in mine intelligence, and how magnificent soever it be read in its conspicuous monuments, its foreignness to my feeling still deprives me of rest and satiety. Hereat take Thou no umbrage: rather remember how ignorant I am by nature, and how insensitive too. O Jesu, please Thou have the answer, so far referred to my sole reflection, likewise infused into my soul with gentle voice: lovest Thou me verily? Oh! I pray, vouchsafe a word new fire in my heart to kindle.

J: My Child, hast thou missed the delight that My Love breeds? Well were it questioned who could ever tell it. My Love is sovereign to sweeten this entire World, where gall soaks whatever resisteth it. Through My Love doth earthly life swim[54] in an unspeakably delicious river whereof he that trieth it is privy. My Child, put them to question, that have ever loved Me on this Earth, and hold this answer for certain: heavenly Joy beyond words envelops and pervades their hearts. Indeed, My Creature, I enamoured them enough to force out of them the cry:

“Lord, Thou art to be lov’d, ’tis now too sure;
My heart more proofs thereof cannot endure!”[55]

S: O Lord Jesu, foreign though I am to the ardency of such hallowed Servants Thine, yet am I marking this Earth’s only Paradise as their privileged acquaintance, who bid Thee centre all affections. O fair Lord, draw my poor heart unto Thee from within the Tabernacle, disentangle it from all that is contingent, be Thou the sole Object[56] of all that my wit, will and feel are and do. Therewith, Master, pity me and satisfy me home: lovest Thou me in very sooth?

J: Meet thy love of Me its rules, beloved Soul, and all thy loves be ruled of it. How else is My word to pervade thy mind, to enamour thy heart? How wert thou ever to know My word, esteem it and digest, unless keen interest welcome the same?

S: Jesu, this day my heart desired Thee to cheer and seal it with a loving word. If this still meet too little room and warmth to visit me, I shall below desire grasp and attain Thy Love, yet gladly hold to it forever. Behold me in Thy presence and treat me as Thou list. I shall take it all with love. Silkier than all human praises and honours should I taste Thy very reproach, so surely to be traced to a Heart overflowing with Goodness and Mercy. Even if—never likely, sometimes just—Thou wert to send me away, I should none the less cling to Thee, for Thou alone art my Good, my Life, my Comfort, my Teacher, my King, my Friend, my Food, my Paradise, my God, my Creator, my Redeemer and mine All. Ah, whither went I ever, from Thee astray? No, O Jesu, that I should ay retreat from Thee, my perfect Good, repugns all quarters of my mind.

J: My Child, thy speech so loving, trustful and conformable to My Heart obligeth Me to comply with thy wish. But, before anything else, that My word may boot thee, visit thy heart for a while, scrutinise whether it stand disengaged from all matters mundane or shelter affections foreign to Me. Such spots do badly thwart with Me and with all that thy life’s repository is made for. They are no sooner to be found, than done away. Subject now thy heart to thorough examination.

THIRD QUARTER OF THE SECOND HOUR

S: Beloved Jesu mine, now disengaged from all created things, my heart is wholly reclined in Thee alone. Should it happen to cherish aught else, this it doth for Thee, in Thee and with Thee, out of the same command Thou hast given me to love everybody, including mine evildoers, for Thy sake. Now, Lord, make this known to me: after my countless offences and dire irresponsiveness to Thee, lovest Thou me indeed? The answer, O Master, will I hear of Thee.

J: My Child, that thou mayst dispel all doubt, ponder the reasons for thee to love Me. All creatures are recalling them to thee emphatically.

* Comfort and exultation everlasting doth Paradise offer thee loving Me; thee unloving Me Hell threatens with harshest torments ne’er to end.

* Heavenly cycles, luminaries and unreachable confines, surfaces firm and fluid, life blooming and breathing in myriads of natures packed with strength and address and fecundity, colours, shapes, tunes and fragrances—the experience of this entire universe aims at summoning, drawing and stirring thee to love Me, thy Creator.[57] There is nothing thou wilt find under the sun so mild, so worthy, so fair, so sweet, so wholesome and so joyful as My Love is. Stands it not so, My Child?

* Art thou not certain to be attached to them that share thy kind? And am I not become thy kindred that thus I, too, might have thee attached to Me?

* My Creature, lovest thou not such as benefit thee and heed thine interests? And in whom but Me shalt thou find surer well-doing to thee, or livelier concern for thine interests? Contemplate My Life, Passion and Death; behold Me at Tabernacle; and thereupon verify the truth of My saying.

* Consider human affectionateness for grandeur, for wealth, for pleasures, and for the esteem of magnates. Look around thee and across the World: who, but I, will contain every grandeur, every wealth and every pleasure? In loving Me, callest thou not down upon thyself the esteem of the entire heavenly Court? Yes, thy love of Me is mighty to have all My Servants, Angels and Saints esteem thee, as well as My Mother and thy own, Saint Mary.

* Possessions are as dear to Men as self is. Now, Childie, search for something in the World that be nearer to thee, and more rightfully claimed thine, than I am at this Love-built Tabernacle. What canst thou call thy own under the sun? Soul, body, wealth, dwelling-place, garments, nurture? But I am unto thee as much in sum and eminence. I am thine at Tabernacle, and I am thine in the capacity of God, Redeemer, Father, Friend, Bridegroom and Teacher; I am thine under the form of Strength, Wealth, Abode, Comfort, Nurture and Life.

S: O Jesu, what art Thou! What Quality of brightest qualities indwells Thy Being! What forceful and sublime fulfilment it offers and ordains to undying affective faculties! What an inanity, what a folly besets him that deviates his love from Thee to the vanities of the World!

J: My Child, Goodness, Beauty, Sweetness, Wisdom and Virtue strike thee as lovable. But findest thou in Me not the same goodness and beauty[58] that thou seest in creatures? Nay more, am I not Goodness and Beauty by My own Self? And is it not from Me that thou recognisest created goodness and beauty?[59] I am by Myself the very Substance of wisdom, sweetness and virtue; all instances thereof ’tis I that makes and shapes.

S: O Jesu, Thou the Source of all worth, beauty and comfort, how verily lovable Thou art above whatever, under the Sun, be fairest in constitution—richest in implication! How benign Thou provest likewise in unfolding to my mind, wonder upon wonder, the realm of Thy Love! Withal, upon that very score, mine anxiousness must swell while Thou my question dost unanswered leave. O Lord, how art Thou disposed to me?

J: My Child, all that I do with thee, I do’t with the best part of benevolence. Thou shalt elicit from My last sayings an act of genuine love to Me, and true shall thy desire be made.

FOURTH QUARTER OF THE SECOND HOUR

J: Beloved Soul, wilt thou perceive of Me heart-easing words in tune with the Love that, Sol risen, Sol set, keeps Me at Tabernacle? My Child, notice how deep Philanthropy divine hath lowered Me, bethink whether I could choose an humbler condition: thereat thou’lt seize that Mine is no small Love. Not much I thought it to submit Myself, in this Sacrament, to the wide range of slights, humiliations and offences that ingrates are wont to pour on Me.

Likewise, who loves Me verily, he suffers all for Me whole-heartedly, yea with keen pleasure. Indeed, even the very things which seem laborious are turned into spiritual delights. For no way burthensome are the labours of such as love, but even of themselves delight, as of such as hunt, fowl, fish, gather grapes, traffic, delight themselves with some game. It matters therefore what be loved. For, in the case of what is loved, either there is no labour, or the labour also is loved. And consider how it should be matter for shame and grief, if there be pleasure in labour, to take a wild beast, to fill cask and purse, to cast a ball, and there be no pleasure in labours to win God![60] Crosses and briers, distress and woe, are sweet to My lovers: so have been to Me the pains I underwent for thee. My Child, lovest thou Me so?

S: O Jesu, love of Thee has hitherto been my lips’ profession; but now I mark what gap separates me from its due practice. I bare lively witness Thou hast bone me lavish Love… but of that gift—I own—Thou hast collected nothing at my soul’s miserly hands. I fail to reap inner peace from thy crosses—what is worse, I fail to accept them for love of Thee. Do I thereby prove true love to Thee? More to be regretted, in some dark hours I burst into complaints, even into such as grieve Thy Heart. O good Lord! How backwards I am still in love of Thee! With utmost shame, O Master, I earnestly must confess before Thee that no warmth for Thee is ever waxen in me.

J: In such case, Childie, the words of Love that thou hast heard of Me this day will at least impart thee this truth: that any thy warmth for Me is but a possibility so far. Devotest thou at least some amorous quest for Me?

S: Certainly, O Jesu! And foundest thou, who searchest my heart’s every stirring, lukewarmth or part in my desire, I wish I wished my love of Thee should conquer what it lacks, become what it is not.[61]

J: My beloved Soul, who hast even now marked before Me thy insignificance and nullity in the order of My love, is thy heart prepared to receive of Me that amorous clarification it longs for? Wilt thou wit whether indeed I love thee; whether I still equally do after so much indifference, offence and ingratitude on thy part?

My Love to thee, Childie, is Love eternal; I loved thee whilst, My foe, thou in the ill pit layst of sin. My Love to thee blazed beyond measure, bound and end; and it remains in Me never to wane. Thine offences, for all their weight and bulk, thine indifference and ingratitude, how hurting soever they may prove, cannot overpower My Love ever. Yes, Childie, I do positively love thee thyself: My Heart finds delight therein and great smart at thy any doubt thereof.

S: So Thou lovest me, O Jesu, unthankful as I am! Oh, what exultation! Oh, what comfort! Oh, what miracle of Love! And even I, O fairest Lord, do love Thee… I give myself wholly up to Thee in heart and soul… now and forever!

O Saint Mary, do Thou, I beseech Thee, accord thanks to Jesus in my name for the boundless Love He bears me. Unto full requital thereof my heart and soul[62] are now enjoined, which Thou do gently say to Him. Shouldst Thou find this self-demand to flag, O Mother of Mercy, Mother mine, save it, and perfect it Thou. Be it even so.

THIRD HOUR
THE MOTHER OF LOVE

Ego mater pulchræ dilectionis
I am the Mother of fair love
Eccli 24:24

FIRST QUARTER OF THE THIRD HOUR

S: O Blessed Lady Saint Mary, as truly as Thy liefest Son Jesus is present at this adorable Sacrament and Thou seest me aknee at Him, so truly doth my wretchedness cry out badly for Thy holy help. I desire, O beloved Mother mine, to raise up to Thy dear Son Jesus a true and steadfast, strong and pure flame of love, whereby His own for us, so strikingly evinced at Holy Tabernacle, may be requited somewhat. But I still lag right far in arrear! I know not how to bring my wish to completion.

O Saint Mary, if Thy Heart beat in my bosom in lieu of my cold and thankless one… ah, what hour of love I should then spend, giving Jesus what He is imprisoned for! Or if at least I heard from Thy sweet mouth a lesson of that Love… words blazing forth of Thy maternal hearth… words to brand my heart and teach me to love Thy Jesus, who is mine as well… ah, how fain and fortunate I were!

M: Beloved Child, weenst thou the maternal Heart Jesus hath given Me can hesitate to gratify sentiments and desires so congenial with Mine? Is not such My Wish, that thou shouldst learn to love My dear Son Jesus as it befits Him in this Sacrament?

My Child, I am the divine Doctress in fair Love. He that shall find Me, shall find Life[63], for he shall find Jesus, who is very Life. Therefore, Childie, that thou mayst learn sound love to Jesus in this Sacrament, the Masterwork of Divine Agape, listen Me attentively, take Me right, share we some moments before our Jesus here. Take now My Heart and follow its all-absorbing Christward beams. And, that thou mayst better exert thyself thereat, hearken the clear words whereinto I shall wreak the same.

S: O Saint Mary, my dear Mother, would that I apprehended Thy Love to Jesus, thus to commune with it and take on its manner and intensity!

M: My Child, Mine ardency for Him outblazeth far the fieriest human and angelic spheres summed together—which, though, need not worry thee any deal. Sith I do motherly invite and take thee as My Child to love Jesus alongside Me, our loves to Him shall merge indeed! Knowst thou not this, that what is Mine soever, is thine as well, belonging, as it doth, to the Child of Mine that thou art? Therefore My Love to Jesus is thine too. I give it all for thee with very generous transports to offer Him. This bids thee attain some notion of the manner and intensity of My perpetual Love to Jesus, who is abiding before us at His Tabernacle.

S: Happy science unto happier goal! Speak it to me, O Love-Lore’s godly Doctress; tell me the how and the how-much of the Love Thou borest for Thy Son Jesus, that I may accompany Thee therein.

M: Listen Me, Childie, and bear in mind what treasures of holy Lovingness He hath dowered My Heart with, that chose Me for His Daughter, Mother and Spouse[64]; and learn thou, too, loving devotedness unto Him.

My Child, scarcely was I conceived into existence, nor yet brought to the light of the World, when the straight beams of Philotheism dazzled in My small and tender Heart with meridian sunshine brightest. Thereat was so much delight, comfort and grace lavished to My Soul, as is to one first facing God in Paradise. Meseems I ghostly view My Sweeting anew; anon do I perceive His mellifluous voice address Me: “Arise, make haste, My Love, My Dove, My Beautiful and immaculate One, My Bride[65], perfectly after My Heart… Come, for thou She art, who hath been chosen for My Love, for My Throne and for My Kingdom[66]”.

What quickness, ardency and intensity inhered Mine initial act of Love to My Dearest One, thou canst not grasp, My Child; which notwithstanding, I give thee my own pulsating sun to love My tabernacled Jesus with. My Soul melted of Love at the voice of her Beloved[67] and went lost in Him. Meanwhile, Himself so shaped My Heart with Love, Sweetness and Mercy, as to necessitate it to be nurtured and vivified of them alone. Thenceforth, My Beloved’s memory hath been permanently secured in My Soul, nor was there aught to restrain but for an instant My Heart’s fieriest affections for Him.

My Child, hold this for certain: once thou be enlightened on My Son’s Love to thee at this adorable Sacrament, never shall thy soul forget Him, nor thy heart have any string untouched of such Loving-Kindness as His. My Child, I give thee My Soul and Heart wherewith thou mayst entertain perpetual remembrance and love to our lief and dear Jesus. Art thou not pleased?

S: O Mother of Philotheism, how else than ravished with delight could I be? ‘Tis Thy holiest Soul and divinely maternal Heart that the instrumentation and execution of my love to Jesus fall upon! Right now, in union with Thee, do I raise to His Tabernacle that precious act of love Thy tender lofty living Core gave Him as Thou first dawned to His acquaintance.

“Yes, O Jesu, Thou my bosom’s Delight in this Sacrament of Love, unto Thee do I approach this day with Saint Mary, my Mother and Thy own, sans fear and sans blush, nay convinced that Thou wilt gracious embrace me unto Thy Divine Bosom and accept my loving homage. Thy Mother hath given me Her Soul and Heart; Thine they are as their Maker’s; but also mine, as my Mother’s bestowal for me to love Thee with. I offer Thee then, O Jesu, the Heart of Thy liefest Mother Saint Mary. I offer Thee Her first act of love to Thee; Her immediate response to the gift of existence and divine acquaintance—that ardour wherein She excelled the entire seraphic choir in Heaven. I give Thee, O Jesu, the pure and innocent thoughts of Her immaculate Soul. Thee I give the tender affections, the loving sighs, the blazing flames, the blissful swoons and the sweet enrapturements, that did unite Her Heart with Thee at its very first pulsation.

With all these offerings, O Jesu, I mean to redress the lovelessness with which my tender infantile heart disappointed Thee when first awake to Thine acquaintance. Alas! how wrongly it kept its fresh and pure affections from an easy flight and swift Thine arms unto! How wrongly it started to lapse away from Thee and grow fond of creatures! O Jesu, grieved and rent is my heart for yon missed season, the fairest of my life, when I could easily love Thee with angelic innocence. Nevertheless, so bad a loss I have found magnificently restored in my merciful Mother Saint Mary. Her immaculate affections are mine, O Jesu: I offer Thee them in reparation for the coldness that ruled the morning of my life.”

SECOND QUARTER OF THE THIRD HOUR

M: Dear Child, right pleased is My Son Jesus to accept at thy praying hands My Heart’s first Love in reparation for thy missed primæval opportunity Him Angel-like affectionateness to give. So let now thy ear and soul drink a more ardent and perfect Love for us conjointly to reciprocate the most divine virtue that tabernacles Him and overflows His Heart.

Beloved Child, if Mine immaculate Heart’s first act of love was a fiery stream, thenceforth, keeping pace with Mine ever-waxing knowledge of God, it was enlarged into a flaming Sea. For the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Charity divine, descended into My Soul, set up His throne on My Heart and chose Me for His Bride, whereat He graced Me so superabundantly as to have Me lost in a great Ocean of Lovingness. Thus was I perfectly rendered immaculate, aglow with pureness and holiness, aflame with Love and bound and joined to God—so much so, that unsurpassably tight attraction to Him held sway over all My thoughts and desires, yea over the wholeness of My Mind and Heart.

Thus did the Holy Ghost prepare My Soul and Heart for that blissful moment when He was to unite God the Son with human nature in My most pure womb, thereby to constitute Me His Mother.

S: O Saint Mary, godly Mother mine, canst Thou somewise explain to mine ignorant soul yon all-Heavenly Love which, Thou conceiving Jesus, our Redeemer, kindled Thy Heart? Canst Thou tell the flames that blazed in it when the Son of God, the selfsame Jesus whom we keep loving here conjointly, constituted Thee His living Shrine at His Incarnation? Canst Thou the feelings speak that stirred in Thee whiles that the Holy Ghost from Thy most pure Heart-blood the Body shaped of Jesus and Thou this august title wonst: Mother of God[68]? Canst Thou wreak as much into words, O Saint Mary?

M: Yes, My Child. To the measure of thy faculties, I shall speak the speakable, that thou mayst join to My Love to Jesus in this Sacrament. My Child, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of Man[69] what joy, exultation and heavenly bliss was Mine at My conception of the Divine Word. My body became a living Tabernacle of the Son of God and I was made into the cell of Love’s Prisoner. He that gave Me Life took His thencefrom; My most pure blood was His. What is more, human life being heart-centred, My Heart was made the centre of Jesu’s Life. Here verily was My Beloved all Mine, and I all His[70].

My Child, now canst thou see how rightly, at My cousin Elisabeth’s praise, I exultantly sang out Magnificat: “My Soul doth glorify the Lord, and My spirit hath rejoiced in God My Saviour[71], seeing that Jesus, the Son of God; Jesus, Grace, Love and Bliss substantial and self-effusing, chose Me for His living Tabernacle!

S: O Saint Mary, Thou godly Mother of Jesus my Redeemer, Thou living Tabernacle that the Holy Ghost did fully grace and hallow to host the Son of God and clothe Him with human nature! Lend me Thou a tongue to echo Thy own Magnificat, that praise which befits Jesus for the marvellous Love that He hath borne Thee.

M: Yes, Childie, to th’end that thy voice accompany My hymnody, enter we, after Prophet David’s invitation[72], the Tabernacle of Jesu’s, Him conjointly to adore, bless and thank for the magnific grace that He then conferred upon Me, when as, with most favourable look at His servant’s poverty, He chose Me the living Tabernacle to mother and host Him.

Meanwhile, Childie, forget not the grace He granted thee so many times when He selected even thee for His Abode. For that did He each time He moved from a Tabernacle to thee at Holy Communion. With the unspeakable Kindness this betokens, bethink also the humiliating price He pays therefor. Indeed, when He became incarnate and housed in Me, Jesus veiled up His Divinity: but when He inhabits thee at Communion’s time, He cuts off from sight all trace of His Being. Coming to Me at the Annunciation lowered Him from God to Man; but visiting thee at Communion lowers Him further yet, to wit, from God and Man to thy Food beneath bread species. My Child, do weigh how much obliged thou art to adore, thank and praise Jesus for so marvellous a grace. Draw we nigher to My Son; to Him, the living Hostie at Holy Tabernacle. Hymn thou Jesus as I did at Saint Elisabeth’s; for, who sanctified His Forerunner Saint John upon My praise, He will, upon thy praise borne out by Me, sanctify thee too.

S: Yes, O Saint Mary, with Thy tongue thank and praise I Jesus for such grand and surprising Love as He hath shown me in this Sacrament, especially in Holy Communion, when at the cost of so deep a humiliation He becomes one with my soul.

“O Sacramental Jesu, good Lord, my soul magnifies Thee, and my spirit hath rejoiced in Thee, my God and Saviour, for in this Sacrament Thou bringest Thy Love to an expression than which no higher is possible. How often Thou didst bow to oneness with my poor wretched soul, thus to render me blest! For blest indeed pronounceth me th’entire angelic Host, to whose lot such oneness with Thee never fell.[73]

O Jesu, Thou hast verily done great things to me in this Sacrament of Love: holy is Thy Name! And from age unto ages, from generation unto generations, in this Sacrament Thou wilt always prove like merciful to all that love and duly worship Thee for the true God Thou art.

O Jesu, in this Sacrament Thou hast shown Thine arm’s Omnipotence, as Thou hast gathered the maximal Wonders therein; and through it Thou hast given us wondrous strength to stay upright and to knock down the proud enemies of our souls.

O humble-hearted Jesu, no sooner did pride, loathsome to Thee, brand such spirits against divine Holiness, than Thou putst those adown from former lofty seats; but here, at Tabernacle, O meek-hearted Christ, all them exaltest Thou, that unto Thee in lowly spirit approach: them drawst and pressest Thou Thy Bosom unto, them heaven’st Thou.

From this place, O Jesu, Thou lavishest Thy Grace upon them that are deprived as I; but empty sendst away all such as approach unto Thee blinded of mundane vanity and wealth.

In this Sacrament, O Jesu my Redeemer, Thou hast indeed fulfilled Thy yore promise to Abraham[74] and to all such as were to beacon forth his lively Faith; for, mindful of Thy Mercy, Thou hast given Thy people more than deliverance from thraldom: Thou didst receive him, too, in Thine embrace to maintain with Thy Body and Blood”.

This praise, O Jesu, do I associate to Thy Mother Saint Mary’s Magnificat at Zachary’s before Saint Elisabeth. O lief Saviour, I also wish I commanded all human and angelic tongues, therewith lifelong to praise Thee, alongside the Most Holy Virgin, for the Love, all-astounding in dimension and mode, that Thou betokenst me whenever Thou payst the most humiliating price of Thy Personal visit, yea substantial fusion with my soul at this adorable Sacrament. That Thou, O Lord, wouldst select for Thy living Tabernacle Panagia assenting Gabriel’s Ave, is little matter for my wonder, as Thy Heart would always take its full delight at the Heaven of Purity, the Shrine of Holiness, the Spring of Lovingness, that Her Soul was. But that Thou shouldst make frequent abode with my poor soul, this nonplusses me! Where is my soul storing any sanctity and purity to become Thee? Further yet, mine astonishment grows, O Jesu, when I ponder how far more humbling it is for Thee to inhabit me than it was to indwell Saint Mary. In borrowing from Her our nature, Thou didst shroud therein Thine eternal Godhead; but in coming to me Thou needst to veil Thy human shroud too, and this entirely. Oh, what powerful further Theeward endearments has Thy Mother Saint Mary given me with mellifluous speech!

O Saint Mary, do Thou love Jesus in this Sacrament in my stead and in suppliance of my naught-availing heart!

THIRD QUARTER OF THE THIRD HOUR

M: Child, thou hast scarce yet seized the newer and stronger endearments I have given thee to Jesus in this Sacrament. Hearken further. Learn of Me a better love to Him.

S: Such do I full ardently desire of Thee, O Mother of Love, seeing Thee my Life, my Sweetness and my Hope[75] in the endeavour of tending wholly to Jesus. Wherefore I beseech Thee: Deign, O Lady, to expatiate on Thy Love to Jesus, that it may bud to filial imitation in me along with Thy compelling enlightenment.

M: My Child, put out of mind what thought soever be alien to Jesus. Untie thy heart of all worldly affections. While thou bide joined to Me, concentrate all thine affectionateness in Jesus unto keener understanding of the degree that My maternal Love did reach.

My first reception of existence and knowledge of God awakened Me to Heaven’s topmost Love to Him. This Amorosity, gaining ever greater dimensions, was sized as an all-devouring fiery torrent when the Son of God, having predestined Me for His Mother from eternity, brought this decree to effect at His Incarnation. Infer what amorous oceanic Sun glowed within Me at Bethlehem’s Grotto when He came into the World; when I beheld Him and raised Him and pressed Him onto My Heart, there to sense the beatings of His own divine. If Saint John the Evangelist, reclining on Jesu’s Divine Heart at the Last Supper, was so choicely enamoured as to be titled the Apostle of Love, Thou mayst guess what unworldly Galaxy of enamouring Fire flooded My bosom and what delicious tenderness seized My Soul as I embraced My dear Babe Jesus. Then did Love’s all-transcending Empire get two hearts so joined, as it else hath never done thus much, nor is to do.

S: O Saint Mary, how can I ever seize the Love Thou didst feel stir within at Bethlehem Grotto? Upon Thine appearing to certain Thy Servants in whose arms Thou didst place the divine Infant[76], a second miracle, O Blessed Lady, was required to shield their lives from Love’s consuming dart. How could then this happen, that yon maternal ardour be shown me, that Thou wast harbouring as Thou didst first embrace Thy Son Jesus and affectionately kiss His royal front? Canst Thou, dear Mother mine, explain to me in clearer mode this amorous Wonder, that I may take on the same and offer it with Thee to Jesus in this Sacrament?

M: Listen Me, My Child. Give up the impossible and renounce to estimate the nature and dimension of Jesu’s Love to His Mother, yet of it do catch some extrinsic sparks by considering all My Son’s workings with Me with all their apparel of gifts and graces done Me. Contemplate what Affectionateness enveloped Me as I maintained Jesus with My parthenian milk, enchanted at the close sight of His divine Face and awed at the consideration of His Greatness and My nothingness… Compose the mental picture where, He sleeping in mine arms, His dulcet smile bode wake memorial of His Love to Me, yea of such Love as inheres the distinction of Virginal Motherhood[77]. Sharpen thine imagination to take in what feelings were later effected in My Soul, and Marvels lit, as Jesus, on My left arm asleep, would lay His head down on My shoulder and so wreathe His arm round My neck, that His Divine Heart leaped with Love upon the one that it took life-blood from. What experiences were alive within Me at those moments, no other mother can apprehend, none else having ever had God for her Son.

S: Were it in Thee, O Saint Mary, to vouchsafe me yet a further disclosure of this Love? O merciful Mother mine, how I pant after this grace!

M: ‘Tis well in Me to grant it. Apply gently thy contemplative faculties to My maternal Heart. Gather thou in one, My Child, all mothers’ God-given natural love to their offspring: grand and perfect should it be, but stinted of perforce: at some degree it must needs pause, being fixed by the entitative limitation of its object. Not so My Love to My Son Jesus, which transcends all mothers’ conjoint love. It knows no stint at its target, but only ever-higher upflaring up to the heights of divine Charity itself. Take enlightenment, My Child. Unlike other mothers, I have in My Son the very Peak and Gravity Point of all My Affectivity. A mother needs to cherish many things beside and above her offspring—most of all, her soul and her God. But Mine is a unique privilege in the order of attaching maternity: My Jesus is God! What could ever halt at any mark the effusion of My Love to Him? And who could well express what celestial ardency goes forth from Me to My Son and God? If all the loves He receiveth from militant and triumphant Saints were blended into one with those of the angelic choirs up to the highest Seraphim, that great Love were not a faint hint of Mine.[78]

Seest thou, beloved Child? Jesus enabled Me to give Him, My womb’s dearest Fruit, this universality of motherly, human and angelic loves in the highest, purest and holiest degree.

S: This Love Thou hast to Jesus, O sweetest Mother mine, must needs nonplus mine understanding.

M: The more nonplussed wilt thou then be, Childie, hereat: so fast was daily enlarged My Love to Jesus since His Birth, that no single day could match the morrow for its force. What else were thinkable, My Child? The beauty, sweetness and grace of Jesus daily dawned on Me as a booner sun. Love was designed to drive My life’s every current in all settings. If I was laid under necessity of sleep, My Heart watched[79], My deep mind abiding fixed in Jesus. Meseems I behold Him anon hasten to My bosom with delightful smile, Love-lit twin sunny diamonds and open arms, and bid Me raise Him up as divine affection rushed Him to embrace Me, kiss Me, and call Me Mama! Behold, Childie, My Love turn into a glowing Sky[80], an Ocean, an Abyss, the ultimate of enrapturements. Ah! beloved Child, if it comes to convey all this, human utterance is doomed to fail forever.

S: O House of Gold and Mother mine! Prostrate at Thy feet, Thee I confess to be Love’s Mother in sooth; Thy Love, to surpass human ken!

M: My Heart was enflamed apace with Jesu’s ever-swelling sweetness. Indeed, so fair and gracious was Jesu’s Face, even to those unacquainted with His Deity, as to enchant them, chase all woe and care out of their existence, and urge them the Beauty and Gentleness of Mary’s Son to forthtell. His charming glance ensuring consolation, many would seek Him in dark hours. No wonder, then, that I could not endure Myself afar from Him that was the Light of Mine eyes. And so canst thou see Me, either sharing His dwelling places, or following His steps, unto Cana of Galilee, Bethany, Samaria, Capharnaum, Jerusalem, or the cities of Judæa. There was neither length of journey to exhaust Me, nor number of crowds to disturb Me. Above all such contingencies, there was to Me one care in lead: to see Jesus—one forceful longing: to be with Jesus—one sole supply of Heart-Life: to love Jesus. And thou, Childie, art equally willing to love Jesus in this Sacrament thus—art thou not?

S: By all means, O Blessed Lady. How shall I set about it? No door find I open thereto.

M: Despair not of finding one. Standing thy Mother in thy own stead, I shall offer Jesus, at His Tabernacle, My Love, whereto thou add thy bit alike. Offer we them conjointly, and Jesus shall accept the loves of Mother and Child as though they were a single one. Gladdeth such thee?

S: I leave it to Thee, O Highest Deipara, to ponder whether it be else.

M: Approach therefore with Me to Jesu’s feet, be silent, listen Me, and let thy will all the while confirm this presentation and offer of thy person as I submit it to Him.

“My dear Son Jesu, who abidest in this Sacrament, the Masterwork of Divine Agape, for Mankind’s sake, and longest for the love of souls Thy Blood redeemed, behold! I have brought Thee one of them, who aspireth to great Love of Thee. But, poor her! she falleth short of what she pineth for. Art Thou not pleased at this, beloved Son, that I offer Thee again all the Lovingness with which I accompanied Thine every earthly step—that inner blazing state which I have disclosed her, and to which she longs to join?

Accept, O Jesu, this intent of hers united with mine, for she, in the capacity of My Child, is entitled to pour this love on Thee. Am I not her Mother? Doth a Child of Mine not share all I have? With her, then, O Jesu, I offer Thee that Love which I have always poured on Thee, especially the maternal enamourment My Heart could feel when I first pressed Thee into My Bosom in Bethlehem Grotto… That fond innerly rapture I sensed at the delightful Love-tokens Thou wast wont to give me in Thy youth… That Abyss of Love wherein my maternal Heart was absorpt at the mellifluous terms wherewith Thou wouldst express to me Thy true bond filial. All such love I offer Thee, O Jesu, at one with the soul of this My dear Child, and, whenever she shall desire to offer Thee her counterpart, I mean to submit unto Thy Throne of Grace, anew and with her, all the Love I have ever had for Thee.”

FOURTH QUARTER OF THE THIRD HOUR

S: Saint Mary, dearest Mother mine, what words will set forth my gratitude for this choice Love Thou bearest me? My heart’s least and my lips’ utmost utterance goes thus:

Forever true shall be my heart
to such good Mother as Thou art!

M: My Child, keep also faithful to thy tabernacled God by holding Him as the sole Object of thine affective potencies. And imitate My Love to Sacramental Jesus.

S: O Saint Mary, how could I, altogether uninstructed therein, imitate Thy Love to Sacramental Jesus? O merciful Mother mine, how I wish Thou shouldst translate something thereof into a lesson!

M: Child of My Heart, thy wish is My Wish. I also desire thy start in due love to Jesus at Holy Tabernacle after Mine example and experienced skill.

Mark, Child, that Jesu’s sacramental sojourn was first designed for Me, then for all Men.[81] So hath it resulted from the paramount degree unique of My Love to Him, surpassing the rest of Creation. While Jesus lived visibly on Earth, the force of My perpetual and substantial attachment rendered Him vital to Me. But for His abiding with Me in the Sacrament of Love after His Ascension, what life had Mine been during the long years I outlived Him in earthly exile?

Now, Childie, I leave thee to bethink manner and extent how Sacramental Jesus substantiated Life both unto Me and within Me. Invite thy mind into the Cenacle, the place where dawned upon the World the mysteries of the Eucharist. Whether the celebrant were Saint Peter, or My dear son Saint John, or Saint James, always there aknee was I amidst My darlings, first Christians. How fervently I would expect My Son Jesu’s descent to the Altar as the Victim for Love to us! What unspeakable holy union of hearts would tie Son and Mother at yon time! How eagerly I looked forward to receiving My liefest Son in My bosom! While the wings of Divine Love bore Me aloft in search of His union, the thought of His Greatness and Holiness filled My breast with awe as I pondered My littleness: indeed I regarded Myself unworthy, not only to receive Him, but even to tread the Land His presence had hallowed!

S: Alas, the difference between Thy Communions and mine, Saint Mary! If Thou, who gavest Jesus life, Thyself unworthy heldst Thy Fruit to take, what shall then I, who gave Him naught but woes, say of myself?

M: Why, who will ever receive Jesus worthily? Not a one is able to afford a meet reception to His infinite Holiness and Greatness! But I warrant thee, Childie, that thou wilt give Him pleasure if thou approach unto Him with humility and love. Offer Jesus these two virtues with which I received Him, and the gladder He shall wax at thee.

S: Merciful Mother mine, how can I demonstrate love to Jesus in this Sacrament?

M: Follow thy lief Mother’s example. After Jesu’s Ascension, I spent all My days at His very feet by this Sacrament of Love. I adored Him in the Blest Eucharist unremittingly. Ah, how many graces My Son would give Me as I adored Him! With what filial Love He would delight His Mother’s Heart! I so beheld Him at Tabernacle, as I longed to see Him… now born in Bethlehem Grotto… then a Child… or at the age when He was lost to Me… again in His youth… then throughout the steps of His Passion… or in the Glory of His Resurrection[82]. My Child, what Mine eyes did see, that canst thou bring before thy mind with lively Faith, thus to contemplate Jesus—whether He be enclosed in a Tabernacle, exposed at a monstrance, or lodged in thy bosom—as He was wont to appear to Me.

S: O Saint Mary, Thou art indeed the perfect and worthiest Adorer of Sacramental Jesus, the veritable Doctress of what true Eucharistic devotees all oncoming ages would bring to the light of the World.

M: So, Childie, be thou too a veritable devotee of My liefest Jesus in the Sacrament. Stay thy mind unremittingly at Tabernacle. Wherever thou pray, collect thyself there with Jesus. By the mediation of thy Guardian Angel[83], send frequent acts of charity, faith and trust unto thy divine Friend in Prison. Where thou glimpse soever a church where Jesus be templed, thither pour forth loving, repairing and communing affections unto Him.

O My Child, if thou knew’st what treasure lies hid in this practice and what graces it brings to thee as well as pleasure to Jesus and Me, I warrant thee thou wouldst not as much as consider the omission thereof. For the rest, do not think it difficult. Once thine attention shall but scarcely dawn, Jesus shall grant true love of His tabernacled Self upon thy heart, which, once bestowed therewith, shall go on its own to meet its most amiable Target.

S: O Saint Mary, I thank Thee for Thy Love’s advices and I pledge myself to making them true. From this day forth I shall never forget Thy liefest Son Jesus at this adorable Sacrament. My body will frequent His Tabernacle what time this is possible; my spirit, will and love, while they and the World be. Yes, thus assiduous shall I offer up to Him all my thoughts, desires, affections; His will be what love my heart affords.

M: In this wise, My dear Child, thou shalt wholly belong to thy Saviour in the Blessed Sacrament, who in His turn shall be all thine at His Tabernacle and fashion His Divine Love within thy soul—Love to yield thee a roseate life, a roseate death, an eternity roseate. Now, Childie, seek the fulfilment of His part by making thine true: before thou quit this sanctuary, offer good Jesus thy heart with all its affections for this moment and for all thy days.

S: Yes, O sweetest Mother of Jesus and of mine, ere I leave my Love-locked Prisoner, I offer him my heart with all its affections, which act do Thou confirm:

“O Jesu, dearly beloved Son of my merciful Mother the Virgin Mary, I am departing from Thy Real Presence in this Sacrament. Though fatigue, though duty, claim away from Thee mine outer man, mine inner one escapes that train and cleaveth here, delivered up to Thee through Holy Mary’s hands. Thou art my only Treasure. Thine unchangeable declaration remaining firm ‘Where Thy treasure, there is thy heart also’[84], from this day forth my heart shall stay by Thy Tabernacle. I am leaving Thy dwelling and not Thee. Here shall my heart and my will keep riveted until Thou take me in perfect safety—until Thou absorb me in Thy Vision, in Thy Joy and in Thy Self, that I may love Thee Time’s flight wung away. Be it even so”.

  1. Monsignore is a honorific title which the Holy See grants. It was granted in perpetuity by Pope St Pius X to all canons of Gozo Cathedral among whom our author ranked.
  2. Canon is the name which indicates a member of a Chapter. A Chapter is a college of priests with choral and other duties in Collegiate Churches and Cathedrals.
  3. Of all Canons, the Canon Theologian held the duty of explaining Holy Scripture on Sunday afternoons.
  4. D.D.: Doctor Divinitatis or Doctor of Divinity, is what others call Doctor Sacræ Theologiæ or Doctor of Sacred Theology. It is much the same as any doctorate given by a Church University or a State University.
  5. An important part of this biographical notice is borrowed from Dun Alwiġ Ta’ Savina, by Mgr Anton Gauci, the grandson of Mgr Vella’s sister Nicolina.
  6. Acts, 27, 41 to 28, 10.
  7. The main part of this piece of art was sculpted by Fra Innocenzo of Petralia Soprana during his short stop on Malta on his way to the Holy Land in 1648. When sent to Rome for restoration in 1966, it was remarked that, while the body presented various signs of decay, the head was unaffected. Another miraculous crucifix in wood is also the work of Fra Innocenzo da Petralia. It is venerated at the Basilica della Santa Casa di Loreto in Petralia.
  8. Thus were they called by Mgr Lwiġi Cordina in the funeral oration that he did on August 25th, 1928, in remembrance of Father Vella.
  9. Count Acquaderni (1839-1922) was a great figure of the Catholic movement in Italy in those times on account of the works of charity and culture he fostered. He was held in high esteem by Popes Pius IX, Leo XIII, Saint Pius X and Benedict XV.
  10. Pius X, Decree on Daily Communion, 1905. Actæ Apostolicæ Sedis 38, 401.
  11. Mt 8, 10.
  12. In 1738, Pope Clement XII had already condemned Freemasonry with the bull In eminenti. Several later Popes followed his line with additional bulls: Benedict XIV (Providas, 1751), Pius VII (Ecclesia, 1821), Leo XII (Tuo graviora, 1825), Gregory XVI (Mirari vos, 1837), Pius IX (Multiplices inter, 1865) and Leo XIII (Humanum genus, 1884).
  13. Made all things to all people.
  14. In his Bull “In Eminente” dated 30 October, 1625, Pope Urban VIII forbade the printing of any alleged miracles or revelations not officially recognised by the Catholic Church.
  15. Written by Mgr Pawlu Cauchi, Father Vella’s successor at Savina’s Church. Ġesù Ewkaristija, 1932.
  16. From the Introduction to the 1960 Maltese edition.
  17. Aristotle, Metaphysics, Book I, 981α.
  18. Pope Pius XII, 1957 Christmas Message to the world.
  19. Pope Pius XII, Encyclical “Musicae Sacrae Disciplina”, 1955.
  20. Mt 11,25.
  21. Pope Benedict XV, Encyclical “In Præclara Summorum”, 1921.
  22. Doctor in Theology, Professor of Sacred Eloquence at the Sorbonne, Consultant Theologian at the First Vatican Council, a monarchist opponent of Laicism, and Bishop of Angers where he founded a Catholic university.
  23. Jörg Lauster, Die Verzauberung der Welt: Eine Kulturgeschichte des Christentums. Munich, 2014.
  24. Saint Thomas Aquinas, Commentary to Aristotle’s Physics, Book 3, lecture 5, nº 2. Cf. Aristotle, Physics, Book 1 Ch., 3, 202a21.
  25. Very short excerpts from the Maltese poem “Il-Kelma Maltija”, by Anastasju Cuschieri. Printed in Qawsalla — Antoloġija tal-Letteratura Maltija. University of Malta, 1993. The poem has a total length of twenty one heptametrical quatrains.
  26. Jn 19:9.
  27. An example of the described Maltese linguistic law is found in the reduplication of the middle consonant of roots to add to the meaning of the basic forms, the meaning of causing the action or situation they mean.
  28. Saint Thomas Aquinas, Super Sent., lib. 1 d. 8 q. 5 a. 3 co.
  29. Maurice Olender, Les langues du paradis, 1989.
  30. Strophes from a song composed by Mgr Vella for the “Guard of Honour” children to sing. Found in the bulletin “Il-Ħabbar ta’ Ġesù Sagramentat”, February 1908.
  31. First apparition of Jesus to St Margaret Mary Alacoque, December 27, 1673.
  32. If we go back the Old Law, we find that the sacrifices ordered by Moses refer mainly to four intentions. The Holy Sacrifice of Mass, which substituted all those of the Old Law, contains its different characters, in an infinitely perfect way fulfils all the intentions they were offered for, and produces by itself all its various effects.
    I. The Mass is a latreutic or adoration sacrifice, for therein Jesus Christ adores His Father in our name, humbles Himself before Him and keeps a state of annihilation and death to render Him homages proportional to His infinite Greatness and to the immensity of His perfections in His presence.
    II. The Mass is a eucharistic or thanksgiving sacrifice, for therein Jesus Christ thanks His Father for the benefits that He has filled us with, and ceaselessly repeats on our altars what He used to say in the days of His mortal Life: “Father, I thank Thee”.
    III. The Mass is a propitiatory or atonement sacrifice, for therein Jesus Christ offers Himself to His Father to obtain pardon for our sins and to reconcile us with Him.
    IV. The Mass is an impetratory or petition sacrifice, for therein Jesus Christ offers Himself to His Father to call down on us all the graces and aids that we stand in need of.
  33. Adoration, thanksgiving, atonement and petition are the four main acts of religion (the theological adjectives of which are latreutic, Eucharistic proper, propitiatory and impetratory). We should add: of civilisation, too. All of them are fulfilled as four final causes in the Sacrifice of Mass by Our divine and human Redeemer himself in our representation. These four ends were foreshadowed by the sacrifices of the Old Law as laid down at length in the Book of Deuteronomy. Saint Thomas Aquinas explains:

    “The holocaust was the chief of all the sacrifices: because all were burnt in honour of God, and nothing of it was eaten. The second place in holiness, belongs to the sacrifice for sins, which was eaten in the court only, and on the very day of the sacrifice (Leviticus 7:6—15). The third place must be given to the peace-offerings of thanksgiving, which were eaten on the same day, but anywhere in Jerusalem. Fourth in order were the “ex-voto” peace-offerings, the flesh of which could be eaten even on the morrow. The reason for this order is that man is bound to God, chiefly on account of His majesty; secondly, on account of the sins he has committed; thirdly, because of the benefits he has already received from Him; fourthly, by reason of the benefits he hopes to receive from Him.” (Summa th. I-II q. 102 a. 3 ad 10.)

    Only the first hour of the first part of this book adapts each quarter to one of the four acts of Religion. Such thematic adaptation or “coloration” is not carried further with the remaining hours, which creates no problem at all: during the course of the book’s remaining 40 hours, those four acts of the praying soul occur all the time, albeit not following a “geometrical” partition of the dial.

  34. The Catholic Eucharistic Tabernacle dates back to the age of catacombs, when Christians kept the Eucharist in their homes with worshipful love. When, once liberated by Constantine, they could safely celebrate the sacred rites and build places of worship, very soon the practice was established of safeguarding the Eucharist in the churches themselves. The container of the Eucharist took two forms in the early basilicas: the tower and the dove. In the Romanesque period the pyx was added. Gold and silver were the usual materials for the manufacture of Eucharistic containers.
    During the Gothic period care was taken to embellish the door of the cabinet with elegant tracery and also with painted images. An opening closed by a grille, made in the wall in alignment with the interior of the closet, allowed the faithful to worship the Blessed Sacrament at any time from outside. A lamp lit in front of the opening indicated from a distance the place where the transubstantiated bread was kept.
    With the outgoing 14th century, the first ædicules of the Sacrament began to appear, due to the widespread popular piety that in the Middle Ages led to the desire to contemplate the consecrated Host both within and without Holy Mass. The Eucharistic ædicules achieved a kind of permanent exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in front of the faithful. They are monumental constructions inside which the consecrated Host was kept in a transparent case behind a wide metallic grille, in such a way as to enable the faithful to contemplate the Sacrament, even if in a somewhat hazy fashion.
    The need, stressed by the Council of Trent (1545-1563), to affirm Catholic doctrine against Protestant errors led to the spread of the placing of the Tabernacle so that it was highly visible on the High Altar.
  35. Wisdom 11:21: “…but thou hast ordered all things in measure, and number, and weight.”
  36. Mt 25:36.
  37. Eccli 11:10.
  38. There are numerous Old Testament references to Cherubim and two, in Isaias, to Seraphim. The term Archangel occurs only in St. Jude and 1 Thessalonians 4:15; but St. Paul has furnished us with two other lists of names of the heavenly cohorts. He tells us (Eph 1:21) that Christ is raised up “above all principality, and power, and virtue, and dominion”; and, writing to the Colossians (1:16), he says: “In Him were all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominations, or principalities or powers.”

    It is a pious belief that the two highest angelic choirs, Seraphim and Cherubim, concretise respectively the peak and plenitude of the affective and of the intellective creative faculty. Aquinas says: “Cherubim is interpreted ‘fulness of knowledge,’ while ‘Seraphim’ means ‘those who are on fire,’ or ‘who set on fire’.” (Summa th. I, 63, 7 ad 1) Dante Alighieri introduces an interesting Cherub-Seraph contrast applied to Saint Francis and Saint Dominic: “The one was all seraphical in ardour; | The other by his wisdom upon earth | A splendour was of light cherubical.” (Paradiso XI, 37).

  39. Gen 39:20.
  40. Mt 14:3; Mk 6:17; Lk 3:18.
  41. Acts 12:4.
  42. Apoc 17:14.
  43. Ibid.
  44. Mt 28:19.
  45. Cf. Lk 23:34.
  46. Four of the seven words of Jesus on the Cross are found back in this sentence.
  47. Wisdom 8:1: “She [Wisdom] reacheth therefore from end to end mightily [fortiter], and ordereth all things sweetly [suaviter].” This Biblical passage is similar with the Classical Latin phrase, “suaviter in modo, fortiter in re” in its parallelism of opposite adjectives.
  48. Eccl 1:1.
  49. Eccl 1:14.
  50. A most fair and well-known Augustinian flower: “Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee” (Confessions, Book I, ch. I, ¶ 1). Pope Pius XI comments: “These words, while stating in sum the whole of highest wisdom, at the same time fittingly portray God’s love for us, the peerless dignity of Man, and the unhappy plight of those who live estranged from their Maker”.
  51. Ps 41:1.
  52. The following theological thesis is quoted by renowned Thomistic Theologian Charles René Billuart: “Even though the vision of God qua vision taken abstractly can be separated from love by God, since thus it only causes man to see God, yet this is not the case with vision qua beatitude, since thus it essentially imports fruitive love, though not as a part of essence, yet as an essentially connoted term of it.” Summa Sancti Thomæ sive cursus theologiæ. Tractatus De Ultimo Fine. Dissertatio 2, art. 2 § 2.
  53. The original, which we have indulged to versify freely, reads: “O mħabba bla qies, bla tarf, bla tmiem ta’ Ġesù tiegħi!… Tani kulma kien jista’! Tani kulma kien jaf jagħtini! tani kulma kellu!…” Literally: “O Love without mesure, without bound, without end, of my Jesus! It gave me all it could! It gave me all it skilled (or: knew how) to give! It gave me all it had! This is clearly redolent of the phrase: “Cum Deus sit omnipotens, plus dare non potuit; cum sit sapientissimus, plus dare nescivit; cum sit ditissimus, plus dare non habuit”—“God being omnipotent, He could not give more; being most wise, He skilled not to give more; being most rich, he had nothing more to give”. This pithy, impressive phrase on the unsurpassable Magnitude of the Eucharist has been historically attributed to Saint Augustine’s “Treatise 84 on John” and quoted as his by several Catholic authors, including Saints.
  54. Maybe a reference to The Imitation of Christ, Book III, ch. V, 6: “Give increase to my love, that I may learn to taste with the interior mouth of the heart how sweet it is to love and to swim and to be dissolved in love”.
  55. The quote is from Saint Francis Xavier, who, with His face aglow like heavenly fire, was often lifted into the air while absorbed in prayer. In a manner similar to Saint Margaret of Hungary, Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Theresa of Avila, he frequently hovered miraculously above the ground where he remained suspended, sometimes for hours, before returning to the Earth. At times, when His body was buoyant with ecstasy, Francis, unable to contain himself, would cry aloud, “Satis est Domine! Satis est!” (“enough, Lord! it is enough!”).
  56. God the sole Object of the contemplative soul. We should like to insert brief but most pithy references to this theme by the great blind Breton Carmelite Jean de Saint-Samson (1571–1636):

    “The constitution of the one who is in this state is simple, naked, dark, and without science of God himself: in this nudity and darkness the Spirit is elevated above all light inferior to this state. In which it cannot act from its internal powers, because they are all unanimously drawn and detained into the force of their sole and simple Object that is God, who detains them nakedly and simply in supereminence of sight and essence, at the top of the spirit above the spirit. … It is for the soul thus ennobled and transformed in superessential background and light to respond from her whole self to the One she sees and who draws her into Himself by this simple ecstasy. She must continually attend to avoid busying herself with natural and spiritual objects arising almost continuously, although most simply, from the rational power, and to not listen to nature ever spurring her to both feel her state and reflect on what she sees and what she is. … It is in this most noble, most simple and most attractive operation that the strengths of the soul are intimately drawn, and fixedly detained to this objective abyss: God himself, who draws and ravishes them thus continually by His most noble and most penetrating action. Here the soul, deeply detained to contemplate fixedly her simple, sole, and abyssal Object, savours and tastes God in most simple and unique rest, in plenitude of fruition, if this is the way to put it, because of the most simple and most efficacious delights of God Himself, her Object, who is and does this very rest in Himself, in the abyssal oneness of His whole fecundity. … And the soul does the better experience and possess this out of herself and above her in total and most simple ignorance and nudity of spirit, as this divine Object Himself is sovereignly for Himself the height of His total happiness and His own Paradise by His own and totally total felicity.” (Treatise on the Sovereign Consumption of the Soul in God by Love, Deducted into Simple Theory and Practice)

  57. “The whole nature intends to adore God, and to adore her Principle as far as she is able. The creature deprived of feeling and reason has neither heart to love Him nor intelligence to understand Him: “Thus, unable to know, all she can do—says Saint Austin—is present herself to us stops in order at least to be known and make her Divine Author known to us. That is why she displays to our eyes, with so much magnificence, her order, her sundry operations and her infinite ornaments. She cannot see, she shows up; she cannot adore, she takes us thereto; and the God that she does not understand, she does not allow us to be ignorant of. This is how, imperfectly, and in her own way, she glorifies the Heavenly Father.” Bossuet, On the Cult Due to God.
  58. Irrational creatures assert God the Caller as a Principle by denominating Him our Creator; and they praise Him as an End by denominating Him Calling Truth, Goodness and Beauty whose call to man we are. And the soul performs three movements, as taught by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (The Divine Names, ch. 4): (1) she directs herself to outer things to interrogate them in direct movement to which they answer with an image of the One in many; (2) she meditates that answer and refers it to her call in oblique indirect movement: the rational, logical, discursive; (3) carrying the fruits of her speculation, she passes to the circular movement, anxious to see in her own centre, no longer that image of the One that was seen in the creature, but the Original itself, in whose intuition and possession she recognises the term of her journey and the beginning of her rest in eternal bliss.
  59. Perception of immaterial realities from God and in God is a favourite theme with many great Catholic masters, in particular St Augustine and St Bonaventure, who develops the doctrine to contemplative consequences of extraordinary greatness and brilliance. The doctrine is, incidentally, not at all foreign to St Thomas Aquinas, who asserts it in the following terms:

    secondly, one thing is said to be known in another as in a principle of knowledge: thus we might say that we see in the sun what we see by the sun. And thus we must needs say that the human soul knows all things in the eternal types, since by participation of these types we know all things. For the intellectual light itself which is in us, is nothing else than a participated likeness of the uncreated light, in which are contained the eternal types. Whence it is written (Ps 4:6/7), “many say: Who showeth us good things?” which question the Psalmist answers, “The light of Thy countenance, O Lord, is signed upon us,” as though he were to say: By the seal of the Divine light in us, all things are made known to us. (S. th., I, q. 84, a. 5)

  60. Saint Augustin, On the Good of Widowhood, § 26.
  61. To Saint Ignatius of Loyola (Constitutions, General Examination, IV, 45), the “desire of desire” is the sign of the call of God. It does not consist in an extrinsic or volatile enthusiasm, but in a connatural pleasure or desire to devote oneself to a great project, on which Grace may operate.
  62. Heart-soul distinction. The metaphorical “heart” can in some context be interchangeable with the soul and in other contexts be taken as the seat of the soul’s deep volitive-affective faculty as well as of moral conscience. Instead, the soul expresses what is psychic and personal: she is the form of the body, as Aquinas remarks: “that whereby primarily anything acts is a form of the thing to which the act is to be attributed … And as life appears through various operations in different degrees of living things, that whereby we primarily perform each of all these vital actions is the soul.” (Summa th. I q. 76 a. 1 co.). The soul is easily influenced, alterable and impulsive, and, even being in a sense all things (Aristotle, On the soul, IAII, 8, 431b), she can do nothing without the heart. However, when heart and soul are mentioned together, the first absorbs all the volitive-affective-intuitive power of the soul, and the second is left with the remainder: discursive reason and sensitivity. Jesus at Gethsemani Garden addresses these words to the Apostles: “My soul is sorrowful even unto death” (Mt 26:38). Yet His Heart cleaves to the Father’s will. Heart and soul are in harmony, the former governing the latter. The “heart” can ask the “soul”: “Why art thou sad?” (Ps 41:6) and console her inviting her to hope for the arduous but certain good: “Hope in God, for I will still give praise to him” (Ibid.). The heart is like sea; the soul like land. The heart lively yearns for undiscovered lands that only the sea can make accessible; the soul is born in perpetual search for preservation.
  63. Prov 8:35.
  64. Mary Daughter of God the Father, Mother of God the Son, Spouse of God the Holy Spirit. very popular in Catholic devotion, this beautiful threefold designation of Our Blessed Lady in reference to each divine Person is traced back to Saint Francis of Assisi’s Office for the Passion.
  65. Cant 2:10.
  66. Lk 1:32 —Dan 12:14/27.
  67. Cant 5:6.
  68. “If anyone does not confess that Emmanuel is God in truth, and therefore that the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God (for she bore in a fleshly way the Word of God become flesh, let him be anathema”. Such is the solemn definition of the Council of Ephesus, started by St Cyril of Alexandria in 431 under Pope Saint Clementine I, against the heresy of Nestorius. In his encyclical Fulgens corona, Pope Pius XII asserts:

    “the dignity of Mother of God. This high office which the Council of Ephesus solemnly declared and sanctioned against the heresy of Nestorius and greater than which does not seem possible, demands the fullness of Divine grace and a soul immune from stain, since it requires the greatest dignity and sanctity after Christ. … For as Aquinas correctly states: “The Blessed Virgin, because she is the Mother of God, has a certain infinite dignity from the infinite good, which is God”. (Summa th. I q 25 a 6 ad 4).

  69. Expression transferred from 1 Cor 2:9, which passage, in its turn, quotes Isa 64:4.
  70. Cant 2:16.
  71. Lk 1:46.
  72. Ps 131:7.
  73. Saint John Chrysostom asserted: “We ought to be better than the very angels, and greater than the Archangels, in that we have been honoured above them all” (Homily III in Eph. I). In Holy Communion God fills us with more honour; since He never gave Himself to Angels in a manner that were as glorious to them or enhanced their nature as strongly. There He fills us with more graces; firstly, because the grace of Jesus Christ, which is the grace of the Redeemer, is more powerful and more perfect than that which is not the fruit of His Blood, such as was, in the more common opinion of theologians, that of the first man and that of the Angels. Grace, passing through Jesus Christ, took at Him some characters of excellence and force that are singular to it. In the second place, because Angels received only a part, and as it were a small stream of Grace; but Man receives here its entire source. That man has been raised by means of this mystery far above Angels as to what he receives from God, of itself obliges Man to also raise himself far above those Blessed Spirits as to what he returns to God within his possibilities.
  74. Gen 17:8.
  75. Mary Life—Sweetness—Hope. The Salve Regina containing this Marian trilogy owes its lyrics and melody to the tried, intelligent, virtuous and kind German monk Hermann of Reichenau (1013–1054). It is the main Marian prayer after the Hail Mary, and it has been matter of rich considerations in The Glories of Mary by of Saint Alphonse Liguori. The Salve is one of the four Breviary antiphons dedicated to the Most Blessed Virgin, the other three being Alma Redemptoris Mater, Ave Regina Cœlorum and Regina Cœli. Most important and interesting of the three mentioned Marian attributes is the first one: Life. St Alphonse Liguori says She is that to us inasmuch as She keeps us in Grace by strengthening us against our spiritual enemies, and he attributes to Her Solomon’s words: “strength is mine. By me kings reign” (Pr 8:14–15). Saint German of Constantinople takes remarks: “As breathing is not only a sign of life, but also its very cause, so Mary’s name, ever on the lips of God’s servants, not only is a sign that they really live, but actually causes that life and gives them every help they need to sustain it” (De Zona Beatæ Virginis). And the St Bernard of Clairvaux encourages: “If she sustains you, you will not fall. If she protects you, you need never fear. If she guides you, you will never become exhausted. With her help, you will reach your goal. In short, with Mary on your side, you will surely reach heaven. Do this, and live!” (Super Missus Est Homilia II)
  76. We have retrieved reports of this fact with Bl. Ann of Montepulciano and Bl. Arnulph of Brussels. Apparitions, most of them corporeal and tangible, of the Child Jesus, have also been reported with Bl. Bernardino Realino, St Anthony of Padua, St Dorothea, St Edmund, Bl. Henry Suso, St John of Naples, St Cajetan of Thiene, St. Margaret of the Blessed Sacrament, Ven. Columba Weigl, Bl. Margaret Ebner, St Peter of Alexandria (during the Council of Nicaea), St Rose of Lima, St Stanislaus Kostka. We have taken these references from the work Gnadenreiche Jesulein, by B. Rothemund and J. Puckett, Autenried 1982. St Theresa of Avila and probably many more can be added. A striking apparition of the Infant Jesus also occurred to a classroom of little girls in a Communist school in Hungary. These Graces are extraordinary as manifestations of love from our Lord to His Servants. it should be remembered, to everyone’s great amazement, that, though our Lord showed Himself visibly to few, he gives Himself substantially to as many as receive Him in Holy Communion in Grace of God.
  77. “She had in her whole life, as you know, a marvellous society of all Virtues, wherewith She wove that loom of her age, as with singular and most excellent figures, in whom the absolute consent and harmony of all Virtues have magnificently conspired, that Beauty should not violate Shamefastness; gravity, infringe lowliness; meekness, gravity, Simplicity, Majesty; facility, constancy; lastly (which till then was never heard of) that the name of Mother should be nothing injurious to Virginity.” —Henry Hawkins, Partheneia sacra, or, The mysterious and delicious garden of the sacred Parthenes: symbolically set forth and enriched with pious deuises and emblemes for the entertainement of deuout soules, by H.A. 1633.
  78. “Our Blessed Lady herself revealed to sister Mary of the Crucified, that the fire of love with which she was inflamed towards God was such, that it sufficed to consume heavens and earth in an instant, and that the ardours of the seraphim, in comparison with it, were but as fresh breezes.” —Saint Alphonse Liguori, The Glories of Mary, ch. I.
  79. Cant 5:2.
  80. The author employs the Maltese word “mixegħla”, redolent of Malta’s religious village festas, much of whose visual charm is provided by beading and flooding illumination of church facades and by colourful fireworks and banners.
  81. “The Eucharist is the principal mystery of the Virgin; Mary is the main subject for whom the Divine Power did so great things in this mystery.” Saint Gregory of Nyssa.
  82. Saint John of Avila, Sermons of the Most Holy Sacrament, “No te hartes de mirar a Cristo” (“Never grow weary of glancing at Christ”). Sermon for the Vigil of Corpus Christi.
  83. Christ set a seal upon the Old Testament teaching that every individual soul has a guardian angel: “See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” (Mt 18:10). Thus, even little children have guardian angels, who do not lose the vision of God by the fact that they have a mission to fulfil on earth. Hebrews 1:14 puts the doctrine in its clearest light: “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent to minister for them, who shall receive the inheritance of salvation?” This is the function of the guardian angels; they are to lead us, if we wish it, to the Kingdom of Heaven.
    (From the Catholic Encyclopedia)
  84. Mt 6:21.