On Our Lord’s Admonition in Regard to Fraternal Charity.
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.
On Our Lord’s Admonition in Regard to Fraternal Charity.
Before leaving His apostles, our Lord laid many injunctions upon them; He had instructed them as to the manner in which they were to preach the Gospel throughout the world, to heal the sick and convert sinners, and given them directions and consolations in regard to their lofty but difficult vocation. Now He gives them a special admonition that has reference to their personal relations to one another. Represent the Saviour to yourself, my soul, in His infinite love, as He stands amongst His disciples, taking leave of them, and urging upon them most emphatically the practice of mutual charity. Listen to the words He is saying to them, and meditate upon those words:
1st. “This is My commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.” (St. John xv. 12.) Ponder well these words. This is My commandment, the Lord says, not merely My desire, or My will, but My command, which it is sin to transgress. Thus this is a solemn, an urgent, a serious, a last and most touching admonition from the lips of their Lord. Consider further, what love it is which Jesus requires of His disciples. The same He has for them. And what manner of love is that? According to St. Thomas of Aquin our Lord loved us rightly and strongly; rightly, because He loved nothing in us but God, and whatever was conducive to the glory of God; strongly, for He loved us even unto death. Examine yourself, my soul; ask yourself whether you love your Brothers and Sisters in Religion in general, and whether you love them with the same love wherewith Jesus loved them, and which He requires you to show them.
2d. Consider how our Lord had already said on a former occasion: “By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another.” (St. John xiii. 35.) Our Lord does not say you are My disciples because you pray fervently, because you are pale and emaciated through your frequent fasts and corporal austerities, nor because you are noted for your alms-deeds and other good works, but if you have love one for another; that alone constitutes the distinctive mark of the true followers of Jesus, one which cannot deceive. Our Lord declares charity to be the special livery of His servants. Without it all your fasts and prayers, your mortifications and almsdeeds are nothing, for the Pharisees make a practice of such works. Would that every Christian, and above all every Religious, would lay this truth well to heart. For alas! In that conventual Community where mutual charity is absent, where the eyes one moment raise in languishing love to the crucifix, the next cast malicious glances at the other Sisters; where the lips which have just been singing the praises of God in the choir pour forth a torrent of bitter reproaches on some brother monk; where the pallor of the countenance does not arise wholly from fasting, but from the pangs of envy also, there, sad as it is to relate, the spirit of Christ does not hold sway; there the disciples of Christ are not to be found.
3d. Consider how immediately before enunciating this precept of mutual charity, our Lord says: “Because I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” (St. John xv. 19.) It seems as if by coupling these two sentences together He intended to say: The world hates you quite enough already; do not embitter your life yet more by hating one another. Think over this carefully, my soul. If we who are brethren do not love one another, whom can we expect to love us? Certainly not God, for we are acting in a manner at variance with His first and greatest commandment, and certainly not the world, for it already hates us on account of our religious profession and the habit we wear. But if we love one another, if the sun of mutual charity lights up the walls of our convent, it matters little to us if the world without pursues us with its hatred. Do your utmost therefore, as far as your influence extends, to promote this mutual charity; and if you perceive that it does not prevail amongst those by whom you are surrounded, oh then be instant in prayer and supplication to the Lord, entreating Him to touch their hearts, and make them obedient to this all-important precept of charity.
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.
– Meditations on the Life, Teaching, and Passion of Jesus Christ
(Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: New York, December 31, 1900)
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