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 Holy Mass as the Most Worthy Thank-Offering.
Picture to yourself, my soul, the holocaust which Noe offered after the deluge as a thank-offering to the Most High God in gratitude for his wonderful deliverance out of the terrible inundation that covered the face of the earth. So acceptable was that sacrifice to God, that to testify His satisfaction He immediately placed the beauteous bow with its sevenfold hues in the clouds above. Now if this oblation of animals, sacrificed by a sinful man, was so well pleasing a thank-offering, how far more acceptable must the holy Mass be, since that alone is a sacrifice sufficient to pay to God the tribute of thanks which is His due.
1st. When David was on one occasion recalling to mind the numerous benefits he had already received from God, he exclaimed: “What shall I render to the Lord for all the things that He hath rendered unto me? I will take the chalice of salvation and I will call upon the name of the Lord.” (Ps. cxv. 12, 13.) You, my soul, should do the same; consider the countless, the inconceivable benefits of God, who created and who continually preserves you and the whole world; who redeemed you and all mankind, redeemed you at so immense a cost, and who sanctifies you continually by means of the holy sacraments; who in addition to this bestows on you and on the whole world innumerable favors and graces, spiritual and material. Do this and of a certainty you will feel compelled to cry with the Royal Psalmist: “What shall I render to the Lord?” And see, you also can do nothing better than take the chalice of salvation, that is to say offer that sacred sacrifice to which the name of Eucharist, signifying thanks-giving, is applied, and in which not a sinful man, but the only and well-beloved Son of God gives thanks to His heavenly Father on your behalf in the only adequate and fitting manner.
2d. Consider that Christ Himself first gave us the example of this manner of giving thanks. For when He said the first Mass, before pronouncing the words which effected the miraculous transformation of the bread and wine, He raised His eyes to heaven and gave thanks, for the purpose of teaching us, as St. Chrysostom remarks, that this sacrifice is intended to be to us not simply a remembrance of His Passion, not simply an expiatory commemoration of His death, but pre-eminently a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Thus in the holy sacrifice of the Mass, following our Lord’s example, we ought to offer His most sacred body and blood to His heavenly Father with deepest reverence in thanksgiving for His benefits; whilst with the utmost fervor of our hearts we implore Him to accept our oblation, saying: Eternal Father, in union with this offering of thanks by Thy only begotten Son, which He presented to Thee before the transubstantiation of the bread into His sacred body and of the wine into His precious blood, I offer Thee this holy sacrifice, beseeching Thee to accept it in return for the benefits Thou hast conferred on me and on the whole world. Only think how many sins day by day cry aloud to Heaven; think how many petitions hour after hour ascend to the throne of God on high, and think how few words of thanksgiving! Endeavor, my soul, to compensate for this lack of gratitude by offering the holy sacrifice of the Mass as an oblation of thanks.
3d. Consider that not only is the holy sacrifice of the Mass the best, because the only infinite thank-offering that can be presented to God, it is also the most touching and most fitting expression of thanks. For gratitude shows itself in the most touching and beautiful manner by this, that it continually remembers its benefactor with feelings of warm affection, and dwells in thought upon what it owes to him. Now holy Mass is, as we know, the perpetual remembrance of our greatest Benefactor, our Lord Jesus Christ, and it is the most affecting memorial of that act wherein the divine love and goodness towards us reached its climax, the bitter Passion and death of the Saviour. Rouse yourself therefore, my soul. Study with more attention than heretofore this most touching and beautiful means of rendering thanks to your all-bountiful God, and resolve that you will now and again offer one of the many Masses which you have the privilege of hearing as a tribute of praise and thanksgiving.
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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