He was also often found stretching his whole body up towards heaven in prayer, like a choice arrow shot straight up from a bow (Is. 49:2).

He was also often found stretching his whole body up towards heaven in prayer, like a choice arrow shot straight up from a bow (Is. 49:2). He had his hands stretched right up above his head, joined together or slightly open as if to catch something from heaven. And it is believed that at such times he received an increase of grace and was caught up in rapture, and that his prayer won from God, for the order he had founded, the gifts of the Holy Spirit and, for himself and for his brethren, such delight and enjoyment in putting the Beatitudes into practice that each one would consider himself blessed in the most profound poverty, in bitter grief, in severe persecution, in great hunger and thirst for righteousness, in all the cares and worries of mercy (Matt. 5:3-10), and that they would all consider it a pleasure to observe the commandments with devotion and to follow the evangelical counsels. At such times the holy father seemed suddenly to enter the Holy of Holies and the third heaven (2 Cor. 12:2). And so, after this kind of prayer, he bore himself like a prophet, as is related in his miracles, whether he was rebuking or dispensing or preaching. Just one example must be given here, briefly, for edification’s sake.

Once at Bologna, after praying like this, the holy master Dominic asked the advice of some of the senior brethren about some decision that had to be made. This was his normal practice because, as he said, something may be shown to one good man which is not shown to another, as can be seen in the prophets. The sacristan then came and called one of the people taking part in this council to go to the women’s church, to hear a confession, I think. He added, stupidly, though not, as he thought, loudly enough to be heard by the holy master Dominic, ‘A beautiful lady is asking for you; come at once.’ Then the Spirit came upon St. Dominic and he began to be disturbed in himself, and the councilors looked at him with fear. Then he told the sacristan to come to him and he asked him, ‘What did you say?’ He replied, ‘I was asking for a priest to come to the church.’ And the father said, ‘Reproach yourself and confess the sin which came to your lips. The God who made all things made me aware of what you thought were your secret words.’ And he disciplined him there severely and long, so that those who were present were moved to compassion because of his bruises. Then he said, ‘Go, my son; now you have learned how to gaze at a woman in the future. Make sure you do not judge of her appearance. And you too should pray that God will give you chaste eyes.’ In this way he knew what was hidden, rebuked the brother’s folly and punished him and taught him, as he had foreseen it all in prayer. And the brethren were amazed that this was what he said had to be done. And the holy master said, ‘All our justice, by comparison with that of God, is nothing better than filth’ (Is. 64:6).

So the holy father did not remain long in this kind of prayer, but returned to himself as if he were coming from far away, and at such times he seemed to be a stranger in the world, as could easily be seen from his appearance and his behavior. While he was praying he was sometimes clearly heard by the brethren saying, as the prophet did, ‘Hear the voice of my supplication while I pray to you and while I lift up my hands to your holy temple’ (Ps. 27:2). And the holy master taught the brethren to pray like this, both by his words and by his example. He quoted from Psalm 133:2, ‘At night lift up your hands to the holy place,’ and Psalm 140:2, ‘The raising of my hands like an evening sacrifice.’

Continue to the Eighth Way of Prayer.