Third Spiritual Alphabet


The Essence of Recollection

A summary of the essential principles of Francisco de Osuna’s teaching on Recollection and his prayer maxims which form spiritual practice – drawn from The Third Spiritual Alphabet

Francisco de Osuna’s essential teachings on RECOLLECTION (recogimiento ) represented in three different ways.

The Sentences based on Mary Giles overview of his teaching

  • Recollection is prayer – it includes vocal prayer, mental prayer and passive prayer.
  • Recollection is constant alertness and receptivity to God – and in the practice of recollection we are co-operating and participating in the activity of God.
  • Recollection can include transforming moments of intense awareness of God.
  • The way of recollection is an ‘affective’ way where the loving will is, at first, emphasized rather than the intellect.
  • The way of recollection in the end joins understanding and desire.
  • The way of recollection is the way of friendship with God that is possible for all in this life.
  • To be recollected is to live out the harmony between Creator and creation.
  • Recollection includes the negative way to God that is not reliant on sense.
  • The way of recollection demands an ‘emptying of the heart’.
  • The practice of recollection requires a conscious resolve to ‘go within’ the heart.
  • Recollection is progressive: beginners, proficients and those who have been made perfect in it.
  • Recollection is an art of love; practiced in imitation of Jesus Christ, and taught to us by the Holy Spirit.
  • The way of recollection is also the way of wisdom; a way of the love of goodness.
  • Recollection is also a paradigm for the whole spiritual life not only one kind of prayer.
  • Recollection evokes and includes many experiences– profundity, concealment, abstinence, drawing near, enkindling, welcome, consent, the marrow and fat of sacrifice, attraction, adoption, arrival, height, ascension, the third heaven…
  1. Osuna’s ‘prayer maxims’ – or wise sayings: a theme for reflection for each treatise in this Alphabet
    1. May the person and spirit walk together
    2. Let all your works abound in fervent thanks
    3. How the soul is to be with God: blind, deaf and dumb, and always meek
    4. Empty your heart and pour out all created things
    5. Examine, become experienced and perfect all your works
    6. Frequently practice recollection to train yourself
    7. Thoughts start war if the gate is not closed
    8. Make everyone your masters and while loving them, flee to the One alone
    9. Do not let unprofitable departures go undisciplined
    10. May your tears of recollection be weapons in the fight for glory
    11. Remember God constantly and call out to him with sighs
    12. Do not think to attain repose by understanding but rather by tasting
    13. Pray before sleep and return to it immediately afterward
    14. Always correct your soul with Love and not in anger
    15. Removing obstacles by fixing your eyes to the ground
    16. Apply love to everything and draw love from everything.
    17. Have your body follow Jesus’ example and your soul his divinity
    18. Retire into yourself often in silence and hope
    19. May humility increase so you may progress well
    20. Temptations are messengers of grace
    21. Intimately calming and quietening your understanding
    22. Zealously guard yourself and you will unite perfectly with God
    23. Fear not to forsake what you have begun; surrender to God

A circular diagram showing the distinct yet integrally connected spiritual movements of spiritual recollection that Osuna describes

osuna diagram

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