Points on Capuchin meditations and devotions


Introduction by Costanzo Cargnoni OFM Cap

Translated by Patrick Colbourne OFM Cap

This translation is based on the introduction, text and footnotes which were published by P. Costanzo Cargnoni O.F.M. Cap. In I Frati Cappuccini: Documenti e testimonianze dell primo secolo, Edizioni Frate Indovino, Perugia, vol III/1, pp.1558-1567. The only additions to the notes made by the translator are references to Francis of Assisi: The Early Documents, edited by Regis Armstrong, O.F.M. Cap., J. A. Wayne Hellmann, O.F.M. and William J. Short O.F.M. Conv., New York City Press, New York, London, Manila, (1999) for an English version of quotations from the Writings or Biographies of St Francis.

Table of Contents


These “suggestions” contain topics for meditation throughout the week. They are set out in the style of the “devotio moderna,” a movement that advocated traditional pious practices, by focusing on seven gifts that God gave to human beings: “creation, power, compassion, the Incarnation, redemption, glory and Divine love.” Seven suggestions that coincide with the days of the week are offered to help the memory consider various subjects during the day.

The first Capuchin to set this out was Giovanni da Fano. However, It had always been practiced within the Order as a means of maintaining attention during prayer.

Other allegories including the seven sorrows of Mary on Calvary, the twelve times blood was shed, the seven sorrows of St Joseph, the ten degrees of humility, the twelve conditions of the sacred host, held to promote meditation, foster the spirit of piety and devotion, and nourish Capuchin spirituality. Suggestion such as these can be found in the Capuchin devotional booklets that were produced at the end of the sixteenth and beginning if the seventeenth centuries. These include, the Dialogo by Giovanni da Fano, (Le dolori di Santo Joseph, f. 129v, Sette dolori della Madonna, f. 130, Contemplatione per tutta la settimana, f. 1306, Consideratione deli Ostia et insieme di se medeimo f. 134rv etc.) as well as booklets concerning the Rule (cf. nn. 1550-1552) and the early Catechisms. We have translated the suggestions for meditation.

1. Suggestions

5412 Monday. The benefit of creation which contains seven features. When the consideration part of the meditation is finished, say the Our Father and the Hail Mary seven times, and ask the Lord to grant the seven petitions contained in the prayer.[1]

First, how you were created out of nothing.

Second, how you were created in His image.

Third, how you were given natural skills like other creatures.

Fourth, how you were given a share in the good things that were to come.

Fifth, how you were given a share in moral qualities and virtues.

Sixth, how you were given free gifts, such as grace and merit.

Seventh, how you were given the chance of obtaining the divine gift of glory.

5413 Tuesday. Consider the benefits of possessing the seven characteristics of independence.

First, how God protects your existence.

Second, how you are given rank or status.

Third, how you attend to your health and can take care of it.

Fourth, how He uses His power to help us in what we must do.

Fifth, how He holds back every evil except a few that serve to make us good.

Sixth, how He arranges everything to help you and allows nothing to stop you obtaining justice.

Seventh, how He provides all that is necessary for everyone in accord with distributive justice.

5414 Wednesday. Consider the benefit of seven kinds of mercy.

First, how by the mercy of God we have not been wiped out as we should have been.

Second, how by the mercy of God we look forward to being allowed to do penance.

Third, how we are offered mercy when it says: Turn to the Lord your God for he is gracious and merciful.[2]

Fourth, how He gives us comfort by means of His mercy. The Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.[3]

Fifth, how He forgives us by means of His mercy. I desire not the death of the wicked.[4]

Sixth, how He causes salvation by means of mercy. According to His great mercy He has regenerated us. [5]

Seventh, how He rewards us by means of His mercy: who crowns you with mercy and compassion. [6]

5415 Thursday. Consider the benefit of seven aspects of the Incarnation.

First, God created mankind so that it may share in the divine nature. That you may be made partakers of the divine nature. [7]

Second. The Master became a slave so that we might become members of His family. [8]

Third. Almighty God took our fragility on Himself so we might be strengthened.

Fourth. He who is supremely good adopted our faults so that we might become strong.

Fifth. He who lives in glory took up our debts,[9] so that we could enjoy the freedom of glory.

Sixth. Eternal life is clad in death so that we can attain life.

Seventh. He took our faults upon Himself[10] so that we might be set free from our enemies.

5416 Friday. Consider seven aspects of the Redemption.

First. Consider the immensity of what the Redeemer did. God activated all His power, wisdom and kindness, grace, divine justice, mercy, and love. Then say You have redeemed us.

Second. We were the children of anger[11] who deserved to be damned eternally. Still, He said: we.

Third. Consider the Redeemer who was neither an angel nor a human being but God Incarnate saying Domine Deus (my Lord my God).

Fourth. Consider the means of our redemption which was His precious blood and say By Your blood.

Fifth. Consider who it was who redeemed us from the hands of the devil, from dying in ignorance and servitude. Then say We have been redeemed from every tribe, people, tongue, and nation.

Sixth. Consider what the Redemption merited was the prise of the Kingdom, grace, and glory. Say: God has prepared a kingdom for us.

Seventh. Consider the objective of the Redemption: we shall reign forever,[12] if we have suffered with Christ. After that say: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him. [13]

5417 Saturday. Consider seven aspects of the benefit of sharing in glory.

First, How we were predestined to receive grace and glory: receiving grace by working with God and glory as a reward for what we have done.

Second. We were chosen to be holy and immaculate in his sight:[14] holy by what happens in our soul, immaculate by what happens in our body.

Third. How He calls us to His kingdom to be with His Son[15] through His mercy and faithfulness.

Fourth. How He freed us from original sin and gave us grace at Baptism and frees us from mortal sin in the Sacrament of Penance.

Fifth. How he raised us up through giving us the gifts of strength, and the strategies for perfection and love.

Sixth. How He helped us in this life and enabled us to possess the life to come.

Seven. How He made us conformable to the image of his Son[16] in this life be means of grace and by sharing glory in the next.

5418 Sunday. Consider seven aspects of the benefits of Divine Love.

First. How He loves us with an everlasting and divine love.[17]

Second. How His love is active so that everything that He does is done out of love.[18]

Third. Understand how His will operates.[19] He does not love just because this is what He is expected to do. He loves out of charity. Everything is controlled by charity.

Fourth. Consider how such love is unique, since He loves us more than all other creatures and above all other creatures.

Fifth. Such love unites and transforms. It brings all creatures together and changes them.

Sixth. Consider how such love is full of pleasure and desire. God is pleased to see us have what we need. Out of love He wants us to be saved.

Seventh. Consider how He loves us with a strong,[20] filial and abundant love which does not decrease on account of our ingratitude. It is filial in so far as it is aimed at our salvation. It is abundant is so far as it is more than we deserve etc.

2. The seven sorrows of the Madonna

5419 First. When she saw the naked Christ.[21]

Second. When she heard the blows of the hammer as He was being crucified.

Third. When she saw Him being raised up on the cross between two thieves.

Fourth. When she saw His clothes covered in blood and saw the wounds where His clothes had been torn.

Fifth. When she heard the seven words that the Lord spoke.[22]

Sixth. When she saw Him dying.

Seventh. When she saw them pierce His side.

Say an Our Father and Hail Mary for each sorrow.[23]

3. The shedding of blood

5420 First, the circumcision.

Second. The prayer in the garden.

Third, the scourging.

Fourth, the crowing with thorns.

Fifth, when He was carrying the cross on His shoulder.

Sixth, when He was stripped.

Seventh, when He was placed on the cross.

The five wounds.

Say an Our Father and a Hail Mary for every time that blood was shed.[24]

4. The sorrows of St Joseph

5421 First. When he heard that the Blessed Virgin had conceived by the Holy Spirit, he had doubts about becoming her husband because he thought that he was not worthy.[25]

Second. When Jesus Christ was born, he cried because he was unable to show Him the honour that He deserved bur he was comforted by Jesus Christ the Son of God.

Fourth. When he was in Egypt at being unable to make a living in a strange country.

Fifth. When he returned to Nazareth, he became fearful at having to go to Judea.

Sixth. When he heard about the deaths of the holy Innocents.

Seventh. When Jesus Christ was lost.[26]

5. Degrees of humility according to St Bernard

5422 First. Do not think that you are better than what you are.

Second. You are unworthy of God’s generosity.

Third. You deserve what is evil.

Fourth. You are not good enough to receive gifts.

Fifth. You are an unworthy servant.

Sixth. Runaway from honours.

Seventh. Do not seek praise.

Eighth. Do not praise yourself.

Ninth. When you are praised do not boast.

Tenth. When you are despised and hurt be patient etc.[27]

6. The characteristics of the Sacred Host

5423 First, it is beautiful and represents God who is a totally beautiful spirit who cannot be captured by any created representation because He is completely invisible, and man shall not see me.[28]

Second. It may contain the image of Christ being scourged, crowned with thorns, or crucified in order to represent His human nature when He assumed a human body and suffered for us when He assumed human nature.[29]

Third. It is round and this represents the eternity of the Son of God and the eternal life of humanity perfectus Deus et homo. [30]

Fourth. The host is light to signify freedom from sin, in both natures being innocent and free from the weight of sin, qui peccatum.[31]

Fifth. It is all aglow and white signifying the brightness of its strength and divine glory, candidus et immaculatus.[32]

Sixth. It feels like it has come from God and is being produced by divine grace. All God’s gifts are full of love even they are accompanied with suffering. Gratia salvati estis. [33]

Seventh. It exudes fragrance. This shows the value of your good way of life which radiates the fragrance of sanctity and all that is good. In adore unguentorum.[34]

Eighth. The parts of the sacred host from one whole which signified the union of the faithful with Christ since all come together in the Sacrament of faith.

Ninth. The Host is consecrated signifying what takes place in those who receive Communion. Mens impletur gratia. [35]

Tenth. The Host is made from unleavened bread and like bread it provides nourishment for the life of heaven. Like unleavened bread it removes the taste of sin and carnal sweetness of the present life.

Eleventh. It is raised up high and then broken into three parts and distributed as Communion. This signifies the love that uplifts the hearts of people in three ways: imparting grace to the living, mercy to those who are dying and glory to the Saints.

Concerning us

5424 First, in our inner life we should be spotless, pure, and sincere in spirit, free from hypocrisy and malevolence.[36]

Second. In our external life we should live as Christ lived and do what He did.[37]

Third. Regarding contact with others, we should be openhearted and not be obsessed by any of the four passions: hate, love, fear, or false hope.

Fourth. We should be free from sin and anxious to go to Confession.

Fifth. We should be aglow with purity of mind, heart, and body.

Sixth. We should yearn for the grace and blessings of the Sacrament.

Seventh. We should possess the fragrance of a good life. Simus bonus odor.[38]

Eighth. We should participate in all the merits of our neighbours.

Tenth. We should take the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth as nourishment for our soul.[39]

Eleventh. We should practice inspirational charity to be raised up to God by love.

Twelfth. We should practice three kinds of honesty: being honest with God, my neighbour, and myself. This is how I should prepare to receive Communion.

1425 Say this Prayer:

O my Lord, I am glad, welcome and am happy[40] that Your Majesty gave us this Sacrament which is so precious, embraces the divine nature and the human nature, contains the perfection of what is eternal and what is momentary, is filled with goodness and the glow of glory, the awareness of grace, the fragrance of virtue, expresses the fellowship of those who have been chosen, confers strength and provides the gifts of grace and love to revive the living, the dead and those who are saints as they are given Your life in this Sacrament. I give you thanks Lord and I admit that it is my fault that I that I am unworthy to receive this Sacrament because I lack an interior disposition and do not act as You did. I am not openhearted, but overcome with passion. I am weighed down by sin, dominated by wickedness. I do not appreciate grace nor the sweet things of life. I am always[41] unworthy to have a share in the gifts that You give those who are faithful to You. I am not the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I am overflowing with deception. I do not practice graceful charity. I am ever worse in rendering to You, my God, what You justly deserve. I beg that through the merits of this Sacrament, and through the love that prompted You to institute it that You would forgive all my shortcomings and grant me the grace of faith, hope, and charity so that I may enjoy all the blessing that come to my soul through this Sacrament as well as all that You give me today and all that I should ask for.[42] Lord, have mercy on Your poor creature so that as he receives this Sacrament which contains so many of Your divine gifts, that Holy Spirit may come down on him, that he may live as You lived, free from sin, having good intentions, clean of heart and mind, knowing how to relish Your grace. May he live a good life and have a share in the merits of Your saints living in truth, charity, and righteousness, living with You in this life and dwelling with You in glory. Amen.

Laus Deo Virginique Maria

(Praise be to God and the Virgin Mary)

  1. The points made in these “suggestions” are masterfully connected to the meditation on the Our Father as set down in a meditation by an unknown author (cf. nn. 5437ss).
  2. Joel 2: 13.
  3. 2 Cor 1: 3.
  4. Ezechiel 33: 11; 18: 23.
  5. 1 Pt 1: 3; Tit, 3: 5; Ps 108: 26 (Vulg.).
  6. Ps 102, 4 (Vulg.). The text has six instead of seven.
  7. 2 Pt, 1: 4.
  8. Phil 2: 6-7.
  9. “debbiti” or “debiti.”
  10. Gal. 3: 13-14
  11. Eph 1: 4
  12. The Biblical quote spread throughout these points comes from Apoc. 5: 9-10.
  13. 2 Tim. 2: 12.
  14. Eph 1:4.
  15. Col 1: 13; 1 Thes 2: 12
  16. Rom 8: 29.
  17. Jer 31: 3.
  18. Jn 3: 17.
  19. Eph 5: 17.
  20. Song 8: 6. Compare these points with the meditation of Silvestro da Rossano (above n 4236).
  21. Vedde that is vide.
  22. That is the last seven words that He spoke on the cross.
  23. It would be good to compare these sorrows with those proposed by Bernardino da Balvano (above, n n.4236).
  24. It would be good to compare these sorrows with those proposed by Bernardino da Balvano (above, n n.4238-4247).
  25. This interpretation is interesting in that it provides an insight into the human emotions of St Joseph that is different to an interpretation based on law.
  26. Cf. Giovanni da Fano, Arte de la unione (above nn. 3989-3998). Note that the anonymous friar who made the copy omitted the third sorrow of St Joseph which is the circumcision of Jesus.
  27. These are also contained in the Capuchin booklets on the Rule but in a quiet different way. (Cf, 1 vol, nn. 1550-52).
  28. Ex 33: 20; 1 Jn 4: 12.
  29. Phil. 2: 7.
  30. Jn 10: 33.
  31. 1 Pt 2: 22.
  32. Song 5: 10.
  33. Eph 2: 8.
  34. Song 1: 3.
  35. Taken from the Eucharistic Hymn O sacrum Convivium.
  36. 1 Pt 2: 1.
  37. Rom 8: 29.
  38. 2 Cor 2: 15.
  39. 1 Cor 5: 8.
  40. Francesco da Jesi, Silvestro da Rossano, and others use the same expressions when proclaiming their love for God. (cf. above n. 3798).
  41. Always is added between the lines.
  42. Lk 11: 13; Ps 50: 12 (Vulg.).