Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Bernardino Da Balvano

The Mirror of Prayer

Translated by Bro. Patrick Colbourne OFM Cap

Bernardino da Balvano (+ c. 1568/70) was an outstanding missionary and preacher who worked predominantly in the region of Southern Italy. Many small booklets which inspired popular piety over a long period of time were the result of his pastoral activities. The content and diversity of topics in these writings are to be found in a condensed fashion in his most important and most prolifically published booklet entitled The Mirror of Prayer which appeared in Messina in 1553 and was reprinted fourteen times within the space of about seventy years. It is a charming little pocket edition the product of both the concrete spiritual and apostolic experience of its author. In thirty-three very compact short chapters, as well as a final appendage (which in our opinion was a separate little work, entitled The Seven Rules for Good Living, which is mentioned by his biographers), the subject of interior prayer that leads to the gift of mystical experience through meditation on the mysteries of Christ is set out with great clarity, simplicity and emotion. However, it is not so much an authoritative and abstract lecture as it is a very practical manual in which the essential theoretical directives are passed on plainly and applied by means of concrete and realistic exercises that can be easily assimilated by the reader. It is this “practical quality” which makes the work popular in character and worthy of a spiritual guide and a true master of prayer.

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