On Mary Standing Beneath the Cross.
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 Mary Standing Beneath the Cross.
Since you have hitherto been contemplating in pious meditation the sacrifice of the cross perpetuated as it is in holy Mass, to-day, the day of the week dedicated to the Blessed Mother of God, cast your eyes upon Mary standing beneath the cross for the sake of learning from her example how one ought to assist at holy Mass. Imagine that you see her, how with glowing devotion and keen grief she witnesses the first, the great sacrifice of the Mass offered with shedding of blood, not as now, in an unbloody manner.
1st. Consider how few souls there were who with deep piety and heartfelt compassion were present at the sacrifice of Christ, who is High Priest for ever. John is there, and Magdalen and a few women, and prominent among them all the holy Mother of God herself. Those only join in celebrating the sublime sacrifice of the cross who love our Lord most tenderly; they stand beside the cross; they alone assist in pious devotion at the great oblation, and amongst them the most holy Virgin holds the first and foremost place. Look upon her, see with what tender devotion she fixes her tear-dimmed eyes on the sacred Victim bathed in blood; look at her devotion beside yours, and reflect how far removed your love for the Crucified must be from hers, if your piety will not bear comparison with hers.
2d. Consider that the Blessed Virgin stood for three whole consecutive hours beneath the cross, a witness of the oblation her divine Son made of Himself, although she had to endure many a taunt and scornful speech from the brutal soldiers, although many a vicious, envenomed glance was directed against her by the Pharisees, and the sight of her suffering Jesus filled her heart with inexpressible anguish. Mary’s soul overflowed with love of the crucified Redeemer, and love gives strength and fortitude to bear all things. Had you more love, my soul, you would assuredly not be so tepid, so indifferent in regard to the holy sacrifice. Moreover it costs you nothing to hear Mass, it does not expose you, as Mary was exposed, to contempt and derision, to the hatred of others, to keen grief of heart, and consequently your tepidity and carelessness are all the more inexcusable.
3d. Consider that Mary, while present at the sacrifice of her Son upon the cross, was so absorbed in devout contemplation that she did not appear so much as to notice what went on around her; in spirit she was nailed to the cross with her Son, transfixed by three mystic nails. The first nail was a vivid conception of the pain her Son endured and which she shared with Him, suffering with Him, His agony piercing her soul like a sharp-edged sword. The second nail that fastened her to the cross with Christ was the lively faith wherewith she gazed on the sacred Victim, which enabled her to see in the pitiable, mangled form extended on the cross her God and Lord, her merciful Redeemer, the Saviour of all mankind. The third nail was her maternal affection, which only saw before her her suffering Child, and, heeding not soldiers and Pharisees, concentrated itself with tenderest compassion on the one object, her crucified Son. Let your soul also be fastened to the cross with these three nails; when you are present at holy Mass represent to yourself the sufferings of your Lord in vivid colors; firmly grasp by faith the fact that it is your God, your Redeemer who offers Himself up upon the altar; give Him all the love of your heart, let the world, the flesh, your fellow creatures have no place in your affections, and doubtless you will find that you will experience many fewer distractions in hearing Mass, your devotion will be far more fervent, and you will derive greater profit from it than you have done heretofore.
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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