If you ask me, by what means so powerful and noble an affection of devotion is attained, the same holy teacher answers that it is by meditation and contemplation of diving things; for from deeply meditating and pondering over these things there springs up this disposition, and affection in the will, which is called devotion; and this stirs and moves us to all good. It is on this account that this holy and religious exercise is so extolled and commended by all the Saints, as being The Means of acquiring devotion, which, though it is but one virtue only, yet it disposes and moves one to all the other virtues, and exists as a general stimulus to them all.
If you would see how true this is, hear how plainly St. Bonaventure declares it in these words:
"If you would suffer patiently the adversities and miseries of this life, be a man of prayer. If you would gain power and strength to overcome the temptations of the enemy, be a man of prayer. If you would mortify your will with all its affections and lusts, be a man of prayer. If you would understand the cunning devices of Satan, and defend yourself against his deceits, be a man of payer. If you would live joyfully, and with sweetness walk in the path of penitence and sorrow, be a man of prayer. If you would drive out the troublesome gnats of vain thoughts and cares from your soul, be a man of prayer. If you would sustain your soul with the richness of devotion, and kept it ever full of good thoughts and desires, be a man of prayer. If you would strengthen and confirm your heart in the pilgrimage with God, be a man of prayer. Lastly, if you would root out from your soul every vice and in their place plant the virtues, be a man of prayer, for in this is obtained the unction and grace of the Holy Spirit who teaches all things.Thus far the words of St. Bonaventure.Then, what richer treasure? What field can be found more fertile, yielding more abundantly than this? Hear also what another most religious and holy doctor, speaking of this same virtue, says:
"And besides all this, if you would climb to the height of contemplation, and delight in the sweet embraces of the Bridegroom, exercise yourself in prayer, for this is the way by which the soul mounts up to contemplation and to the taste of heavenly things.
"You see, then, of how great virtue and power is prayer, and for proof of all that has been said (to say nothing of Holy Scripture) let this now be sufficient assurance that we have seen and heard, and see, day by day, many simple persons who have attained to all these things above mentioned and to others greater, through the exercise of prayer."
"In prayer the soul is cleansed from sin, pastured with charity, confirmed in faith, strengthened in hope, gladdened in spirit. By prayer the inward man is directed aright, the heart is purified, the truth discovered, temptation overcome, sadness avoided, the perceptions renewed, languishing virtue restored, lukewarmness dismissed, the rust of vices done away; and in it there do not cease to come forth living sparkles of heavenly desires, with which the flame of divine love burns. Great are the excellencies of prayer, great are its privileges! Before it Heaven is opened, secrete things are made manifest, and to it the ears of God are ever attentive." (St. Lawrence Justinian, In Signo Vitae)This now is sufficient to show in some way what is the fruit of this holy exercise."