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St. Peter of Alcantara

Ave Maria Meditations

St. Peter of Alcantara (1499-October18, 1562) was instrumental in the origin of one of the largest reforms of the OFM. Known for his extraordinary penance and poverty, his spiritual guidance was sought out by such lights of 16th century Spain, as St. Teresa of Jesus. His treatise on Mental Prayer is his most famous writing. The Alcantarines, which implemented his teachings in a reform of the OFM, had a great impact on the evangelization of the New World. And thus through them, this work came to have great influence in Catholic spirituality throughout the Americas.

“On this day, you shall enter upon the memory of your sins, and upon the knowledge of yourself, to see how many evil things you have done, and to see that you have nothing that is good save from God. For this consideration is the means of acquiring humility, the mother of all the virtues.

For this purpose you must first think of the multitude of the sins of your past life, especially of those committed in the days when you knew not God. For if you consider them well, you will find that they are more in number than the hairs of your head, and that you lived in that day like the Gentile who knows not God. Consider then, briefly, the Ten Commandments, and the Seven Deadly sins, and you will see that there are none into which you have not often fallen, in deed or word or thought. Let your mind, then, rest upon the Divine Blessings, and upon your past time, and consider how you have made use of them. For you have to give an account of all these before God. Tell me, then, how have you used the days of your childhood, your youth, your manhood, indeed all the days of your past life?

In what way did you use your bodily senses, and the powers of your soul, which God gave to you for the purpose of knowing and serving Him?

In what did you use your eyes, except in things of vanity?

In what did you use your ears, except to hear things of falsehood; in what your tongue, except in all manner of rash oaths and murmurings? and your taste and all your senses, except in sensual pleasures and flattery?

How have you profited by the Holy Sacraments, which God ordained for your assistance?

What thanksgivings have you made for all His benefits?

How have you responded to His inspirations?

How have you used your health and strength, your natural talents, your earthly goods, your opportunities and occasions for living well?

What care have you taken of your neighbor whom God commended to you, and what works of mercy towards him can you show?

Then what will you answer on that day of reckoning when God shall say unto you: “Give an account of your stewardship.”

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