But He, taking him, healed him.
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
But He, taking him, healed him
Today’s lessons from the divine office, like those of last Sunday, are often identical with the passages from the book of Job which are read on the first and second Sundays of September. Today we continue to read the missal in the light of this portion of the breviary.
Job is the very type of a just man whom the devil, inflated with pride, wishes to humble to the dust to make him rebel against God, “Let me try him,” says Satan to the most High, “and he will blaspheme Thee.” And God allowed him to make Job the model of a soul who proclaims the sovereign dominion of God and who submits himself entirely to the divine will. So the devil gives the reins to his jealousy, and in a cleverly graded series, makes one misfortune follow another to overwhelm the unhappy Job.
Robbed of everything and seated on his dunghill, Job does not curse the almighty hand of God which has allowed the devil to vent his rage upon him, but rather kisses it with humility. The Introit psalm is an admirable rendering of the spirit of his prayer. “”Have mercy on me, O Lord, Bow down thy ear to me O Lord, and hear me for I am needy and poor.” The Gradual psalm is to the same effect: “the prayer of the poor man when he was anxious”, and the words (verses 3 to 6), “I am smitten as grass… through the voice of my groaning my bone hath cleaved to my flesh”, seem to be an echo of Job’s words when he said: “The flesh being consumed, my bone hath cleaved to my skin, and nothing but lips are left about my teeth.” Also the Offertory psalm speaks of the “poor and needy man” who implores God: “Withhold not Thou, O Lord, Thy tender mercies from me: . . . for evils without number have surrounded me . . . Let them be confounded and ashamed together that seek after my soul to take it away” (Verses 12 and 14).
Finally, in the psalm for the Communion we read: “Incline Thy ear unto me . . . How great troubles hast Thou shown me, many and grievous! Yea and my tongue shall meditate justice all the day, when they shall be confounded and put to shame that seek evils to me” (Verses 2, 20 and 24).
“God,” the friends of Job say in effect, “exalts those who are humble; He comforts and heals the afflicted. The triumph of the wicked is short and the joy of the hypocrite is only for a moment. When his pride raises itself to heaven and his head touches the clouds, he will perish at the last. Such is the lot which God reserves for the wicked. They are lifted up for the moment but they will be humbled.” Job adds: “God will resume the poor man from his misery. God is exalted in His power. Who can say to Him: ‘Thou has wrought injustice.’ The man who discusses with God will not be found just.”
“In reality,” comments St. Gregory, “whoever holds a discussion with almighty God is putting himself on an equality with the author of all good. He takes to himself the merit of whatever qualities he has received, and makes war on God with His own gifts. So it is just that the proud shall be humbled and the humble exalted” (2nd Nocturn for the second Sunday of September). Today’s Gospel speaks in the same sense: “Every one that exalted himself shall be humbled, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” In the sequel, after He had humbled him, God exalted Job and gave him twice as much as he had before. In this respect the patriarch is a type of Christ, who having been humbled to the depths was wonderfully exalted; and he is also a figure of all Christian people to whom God will give a place of honor at the eternal wedding feast if, on earth, they have practiced the virtues of humility with a good heart.
Pride, says St. Thomas, is a vice by which man seeks to exalt himself beyond right reason above what he is; it is based on error and illusion. On the contrary, humility is founded upon truth. It is a virtue which tempers and restrains the soul, so that it does not pretend to be more than it really is. The humble soul accepts with complete submission the actual station which falls to it, and which is that assigned to it by God the supreme and infallible Truth. Humility manifested in word and deed, and in our way of bearing trials and contradiction, is the virtue taught us by Job in his whole life and which our Lord sets before us in today’s Gospel. “After he had healed the man with the dropsy,” says St. Ambrose, “Jesus gives a lesson in humility” (3rd Nocturn).
Seeing how the Pharisees chose the best places, He wanted to make them understand the spiritual disease from which they were suffering and so to encourage them to seek its cure. For this purpose He first heals an unfortunate man swollen with sickness and then veiling the lesson under a parable, seeks to cure the spiritual inflation with which the guests before Him and the majority of men, are only too much afflicted. The world is given over to all the boastfulness and infatuation of pride, while humility is the absolute condition of entrance into the kingdom of God.
This same virtue, which the Church brings before us in the Collect, which refers to our need that God’s grace should “ever both go before and follow us”, is taught by St. Paul in a striking way to Christian people in today’s epistle. There the apostle explains that without any merit on our part, but solely that we may minister to the praise of His glory, God has chosen us in Christ. While yet we were children of wrath, the almighty, rich in mercy on account of the great love He bore us, retired us to life in Jesus Christ, Heathen and strangers to the covenants of God with Israel, we have been reconciled through the Redeemer’s blood, for He is our peace, who out of two nations has made one and by whom we both have access to the Father in one Spirit. Now we are no longer strangers, but members of the family of God. This is not our work but God’s, so that no one has any cause to boast.
Let us, therefore, cast ourselves at the feet of the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is our Father too, so that from the boundless treasure of His divinity He may more and more send down upon us the Holy Ghost, whom He poured out on the Church at Pentecost and who unites us to our Lord by faith and love, that we may be filled with the fulness of God.
Who can measure this boundless charity which God has shown us by His Son? This love of the Father for His children infinitely surpasses what we could conceive or ask of God. To Him, then, be glory forever, in Jesus Christ and in the Church. “Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle, because the Lord hath done wonderful things” (Alleluia). “The Gentiles shall fear Thy Name, O Lord, and all the kings of the earth Thy glory. For the Lord hath built up Sion and He shall be seen in His majesty” (Gradual).
And the people who will take part in the great feast of the Beatific Vision, will consist of those who fleeing from an ambition full of the spirit of pride, have always been humble on earth and whom God will exalt in the measure to which they have gladly submitted to His holy will.
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
September Devotion: The Holy Cross.
Virtues to practice: Piety, fervor in the performance of sacred duties, the spirit of prayer
Mary, most holy Virgin and Queen of Martyrs, accept the sincere homage of my filial affection. Into thy heart, pierced by so many swords, do thou welcome my poor soul. Receive it as the companion of thy sorrows at the foot of the Cross, on which Jesus died for the redemption of the world. With thee, O sorrowful Virgin, I will gladly suffer all the trials, contradictions, and infirmities which it shall please our Lord to send me. I offer them all to thee in memory of thy sorrows, so that every thought of my mind, and every beat of my heart may be an act of compassion and of love for thee. And do thou, sweet Mother, have pity on me, reconcile me to thy divine Son Jesus, keep me in His grace and assist me in my last agony, so that I may be able to meet thee in heaven and sing thy glories. Amen.
An indulgence of 500 days
Invocation of St. Thomas Aquinas to the Cross.
Crux mihi certa salus.
Crux est quam semper adoro.
Crux Domini mecum.
Crux mihi refugium.
The cross is my sure salvation.
The cross I ever adore.
The cross of my Lord is with me.
The cross is my refuge.
His Holiness, Pope Pius IX., by an autograph rescript, June 21, 1874, granted to all the faithful who, with at least contrite heart and devotion, shall say these prayers, drawn up in the form of a cross by the Angelic Doctor, S. Thomas Aquinas: AN INDULGENCE OF THREE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.
Adoramus te, sanctissime Domine Jesu Christe, benedicimus tibi; quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.
We adore Thee, O most blessed Lord, Jesus Christ, we bless Thee; because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.
His Holiness, Pope Leo XIII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of indulgences, March 4, 1882, granted to all the faithful who, with at least contrite heart and devotion, shall recite this ejaculation: AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.
Act of Perfect Contrition
Oh my God! I am heartily sorry
for having offended Thee and
I detest all my sins because
I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell;
But most of all because I have offended Thee, My God,
Who art all-good and deserving of all my love.
I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace,
To confess my sins, to do penance,
And to amend my life. Amen.
Prayers in Time of Calamity
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