°Padre Pio established five rules for spiritual growth: weekly confession, daily Communion, spiritual reading, meditation, and examination of conscience.°
°Know You Have No Righteousness of Your Own°
"Meditation [a thorough study of Scripture] is the key to progress in the knowledge of self as well as the knowledge of God, and through it we achieve the goal of spiritual life, which is the transformation of the soul in Christ," [p. 125]
"Try to put yourself in the presence of God and thus understand that He, with all the celestial court, is there within your soul. Then commence your prayer and meditation. In all this, try to close your eyes, and, if possible, hold your head upright and put your forehead in the palms of your hands. . . ." [p. 125]
"Put yourself in the presence of God, humble yourself profoundly in the consideration of who you are and Whom you are before. Ask God for the grace to make good the mental prayer that you are about to undertake, so that you can derive the fruit that God most desires. Finally commend yourself to the intercession of the Most Holy Virgin, as well as to all the heavenly court, so that they may help you meditate well and keep every distraction and temptation away from you." [pp. 125-126]
At least a half-hour self-examination should be done in the morning "to prepare for the battle', and in the evening "to purify your soul from earthly affection that might have been able to attach itself to you during the day." [p. 126]
"After you have meditated thoroughly on the subject in all its aspects, then pass to resolutions. make it your purpose to amend yourself with regard to that defect which most hinders your union with God and which causes many other defects and sins. Propose to exercise a particular virtue." [p.126]
"Then ask God for all those graces and for all those helps of which you feel the need. Recommend all men to the Lord, either in general or in particular. . . . Pray for the living, pray for the dead, pray for the unbelieving, pray for heretics, and pray for the conversion of sinners." [p.126]
"And after you have done this, offer your meditation and your prayer, along with yourself and those closest to your heart. Offer them all to God, along with the merits of Jesus." [p.126]
"Consider yourself . . . what you really are: a nothing . . . the epitome of feebleness, a fountain of perversity without limit or bounds, capable of converting good to evil, of abandoning good for evil, of ascribing goodness to yourself and justifying yourself in evil, and for the love of the same evil, despising the Supreme Good." [p. 127]
Rules to Combat this Evil
- °Never be pleased with yourself.
- Do not complain about offences perpetrated against you.
- Forgive everyone with Christian charity.
- Always groan as a poor wretch before your God.
- Never marvel at your weakness, but recognizing yourself for what you are, blush over your inconstancy and faithlessness to God, and confide in Him, tranquilly abandoning yourself to the arms of the heavenly Father like a babe in the arms of his mother.
- Never exult in any way in any virtues, but ascribe everything to God, and give Him all the glory and honor.° [p. 127]
- °Remember That Good Works Come Only Through Christ°
- °Recognize That the Devil is a Real Individual, Bent on Destroying You, But Do Not Fear Him°
- °Always Pray to God And Say, In Every Circumstance, 'Thy will be Done'°
"In all human affairs . . . learn most of all to recognize and adore God's will in everything. Frequently repeat the divine words of our dear Master, 'Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.' May this beautiful exclamation always be in your heart and on your lips in all the vicissitudes of life. Repeat it in affliction. Repeat it in temptation and in the trials to which Jesus will be pleased to subject you. Repeat it still when you find yourself immersed in the ocean of Jesus' love. This will be your anchor and your salvation." [p. 128]
- °Love the Cross°
"The heavenly Father wants to make you resemble His divine Son in His anguish in the desert and on the hill of Calvary." [p. 128]
- °Offer Every Action Up to God°
- °Never Worry°
- °Aspire to the Heavenly Prize°
- °Rejoice in the Lord°
(Excerpted from Padre Pio: The True Story by Bernard C. Ruffin. Chapter X: "The Spiritual Director", pp. 124-131. Our Sunday Visitor Inc. Huntington, IN. 1982.)