Ninth and Last Day of Novena to the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel
"Keep watch in prayers..." (Incline your ears to the words of My mouth.) - According to St. Alphonsus Mary Liguori, a great Doctor of the Church, prayer is "the great means" not only "of salvation" but also "of perfection". Since the true Catholic Religion is the school of Jesus Crucified - submission of self, even to immolation, to the will of God: to His signified will (the commandments of God, the constant teachings and legitimate - never the SEEMINGLY legitimate: see our post "In virtue of our Apostolic authority" - laws of the true Church, the legitimate commands of lawful superiors - civil and ecclesiastical, the counsels, inspirations of grace, and - for religious - Rules and Constitutions) and to His good pleasure (that is, to all providential events willed or allowed by God for our own greater good and, chiefly, for our sanctification) - its student of authentic prayer learns from the Master that salvation and perfection is attained "by giving up our freedom for the love of God and entrusting it to another" (St. Teresa of Jesus, "Way of Perfection," XII): submission to direction of lawful superiors in things both external (that is, the signified will of God - what concerns salvation) and internal (that is, the good pleasure of God - what concerns Spiritual progress and perfection; the moral necessity here of consulting a devout and orthodox Spiritual Director). "God," says the eminent Fr. Tanquerey, S.S., "Who established His Church as a hierarchical society, has willed that souls be sanctified through submission to the Sovereign Pontiff and to the Bishops in things external, and to Confessors in things internal," for "when Saul was converted, Our Lord, instead of directly manifesting to him His designs, sent him to Ananias to learn from this man's lips what he was to do" (in the classic "The Spiritual Life," n. 531). "God," teaches Pope Leo XIII, "in His infinite Providence has decreed that men for the most part should be saved by men; hence He has appointed that those whom He calls to a loftier degree of holiness [the summit of Calvary] should be led [as the true Christ was] thereto by men, 'in order that,' says St. John Chrysostom, 'we should be taught by God through men'" (in Fr. Tanquerey, S.S., ibid.).