RULE II – Mental Prayer
Each morning before Mental Prayer they will recite together the Offering which is found in the Sacred Manual of Blessed Leonard of Port Maurice. Every day at the time laid down in the time-table, those who are not bound to be in the ministry of Charity at that time recite, at seven different times, a brief Commemoration of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady.
Those who are engaged by obedience and charity will recite them when they can. From Vespers of Holy Saturday until the Sunday after Easter, as well as the Octave of the Assumption of Our Blessed Lady into Heaven, they will recite instead, at the same times, the Seven Joys of Our Lady.
Magdalene was a woman who understood the value of devotional prayer. Her experience in their use in the deepening of her own desire for the things of God led her to realize their importance in the life of every Daughter of Charity.
The Morning Offering composed by Saint Leonard of Port Maurice was included in the daily prayer of the Canossian Sister from the time of our Foundress, until Vatican II. It has been substituted with the shorter offering (shown here) prayed by many Apostles of Prayer. The intentions of these prayers share the same themes:
- Offering of the day’s prayers, works, joys and sufferings;
- in union with the Sacrifice of the Mass;
- for the intentions of Jesus and Mary;
- for reparation for sins; and
- saving of souls.
The Apostolate of Prayer includes a unification with the intentions of all Bishops and includes the monthly intentions of the Holy Father. The Offering of St. Leonard is a worthy substitute to use from time to time. It points to the spirituality and devotion of St Magdalene. She thought well enough of it to include it in the Rule of the Institute.
The Offering of Saint Leonard of Port Maurice (Actually, of Porto Maurizio, Italy):
Eternal God, and my God, behold me prostrate before Thine immense Majesty, and humbly adoring Thee. I offer Thee all my thoughts, words, and actions of this day. I purpose them all to be thought, spoken, and done entirely for love of Thee, for Thy glory, to fulfill Thy Divine will, to serve Thee, praise Thee, and bless Thee; in order also to my own enlightenment in the mysteries of the holy Faith, for the securing of my salvation, and out of hope in Thy loving mercy; for satisfaction, too, of Thy Divine justice, for my so many and most grievous sins; as supplication for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, and for the grace of a true conversion to all sinners; in fine, I wish and intend to do everything in union with the most pure intentions of Jesus and Mary during their lives on earth, of all the Saints who are in Heaven, and of all the just who are on earth: and I would willingly subscribe to this my intention with my own blood, and to repeat it from a loving heart, as often as there are moments in eternity. Receive, O my dearest God, this my good intention; give me Thy holy benediction with efficacious grace to keep me from mortal sin through all my life, but particularly this day, in which I desire and purpose to receive all the Indulgences which I am capable of receiving, and to assist, were it possible, at all the Masses which are celebrated this day throughout the whole world, applying all in supplication for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, that they may be freed from detention in its pains and come quickly before the face of God. So be it (Amen).
The next point speaks of a timetable, and the prayers to be said. The timetable written by St Magdalene in the Unabridged Rule is quite demanding:
06:00 – Rise
06:30 – Pray the Offering of St Leonard of Port Maurice and first Commemoration and Meditation
07:30 – Mass, followed by the second Commemoration
08:30 – Breakfast
09:00 – Work
11:30 – Third Commemoration, Examine of Conscience and fourth Commemoration
12:00 – Lunch
12:15 – Recreation
13:30 – Spiritual Lesson
14:00 – Work
18:00 – Doctrine
19:00 – Fifth Commemoration, Meditation and sixth Commemoration
20:00 – Supper
20:15 – Recreation
21:15 – Seventh Commemoration and Examination of Conscience
22:00 – Retire for the night
An example of the current schedule of the day as lived by the community in Sacramento, can be viewed here.
One obvious difference between the two timetables is, the source of the Sisters daily prayer. In Magdalene’s day, the Liturgy of the Hours was not widely used outside of the cloister. It is interesting to note Magdalene’s desire to keep seven moments of prayer, commemorating the seven sorrows of Our Lady of Sorrows. This intention, in comparison to the Divine Office is beautifully explained by the former General Superior of the Canossian Sisters, Antonietta Monzoni (1944):
The Divine Office is the prayer par excellence. It is the voice of the Church that returns to the Father like the Spouse of Jesus Christ in the name of all humanity, to adore Him, to praise Him, to thank Him, to please Him, to obtain divine favors, to show Him one’s love and the perfect adhesion to his will.
The Canossian Sister, faithful to her Rule, does all of this, through the seven Commemorations, divided into seven moments and marvelously adapted to the business of the day.
In addition, she does more than all this. In the Holy Gospel, Jesus admonishes us that its not enough to honor God with the lips. It’s not enough to contemplate the mysteries of his life, passion and death; there is the need to live it throughout the day.
This would be the main point of the Foundress in the Rule “Seven Commemorations”.
(Spiritualità Canossiana – 1944 – Feast of the Purification, p.11-12)
The Canossian Sisters have dropped this practice of the seven commemorations. Maybe it will again be a time to revive them?