On the Boundless Love of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, towards Sinners.
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 the Boundless Love of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, towards Sinners.
Contemplate to-day the pleasing picture which the Gospel for this Sunday sets before you. Publicans and sinners draw nigh to the Saviour; they approach Him, held back on the one hand by a sense of shame, on the other hand impelled by hopeful love; they approach Him like wandering sheep, returning to the Good Shepherd. Study our Lord attentively in His character of the Good Shepherd, the one in which He Himself presents Himself to us in the Gospel.
1st. Consider how the love of Jesus for sinners is displayed in the institution of the seven sacraments. It was not enough for the infinite charity of Jesus for sinners that He spent His whole life in going in search of His lost sheep; it was not enough that by the light of His divine teaching He pointed out to them the right way, that He cleansed them from every stain of sin, washing them in His own most precious blood; that when He ascended up on high, He opened the gates of Heaven that had long been closed against them; no, He must needs do more; He bequeathed to them a precious legacy, a celestial inheritance, a never-failing, ever-flowing fount of grace for sinners in all ages in the seven holy sacraments. He bequeathed to them the source of regeneration, of sanctifying grace in holy Baptism, the strengthening chrism of Confirmation, the Bread of Life in Holy Communion, the medicine for the sick in the Sacrament of Penance, the shield and defence in the last dread conflict in Extreme Unction. Consider, my soul, how in these five sacraments the Good Shepherd has amply provided for all the spiritual necessities of sinful man from the outset to the end of His earthly career. In the other two sacraments, Holy Orders and Matrimony, He furthermore exhibits His love for sinners in a special manner, since by the latter sacrament He sanctions and sanctifies the carnal desires of nature, and directs to a more exalted object the impulses which most frequently lead to sin, to sins of the most degrading character; while by the former of these two sacraments He ennobles sinful man, raising him to a great dignity and conferring on him powers which are denied even to the angels. O boundless love of Jesus! Would it not have been sufficient proof of love to have left us one sacrament, that of baptism, by which we could be born again and redeemed? No, the stream of grace that flows for sinful mortals was to be sevenfold.
2d. Consider how the love of Jesus for sinners is most particularly displayed in the Sacrament of Penance, the “second plank after the shipwreck of the soul.” Suppose that some one saved you from drowning at the risk of his own life, and as soon as he had brought you safely to land, you wantonly threw yourself back into the rushing stream. “Would it not be an act of extraordinary love, showing the great affection your rescuer bore towards you, if he plunged a second time into the water to save you? Now Jesus does not merely rescue you once out of the abyss of perdition by means of holy baptism, He comes a second time to your aid in the Sacrament of Penance; nay, if you were so headstrong and foolish as to cast yourself into the deadly current of sin ten, twenty, even thirty or a hundred times, the Good Shepherd will extend to you a saving hand ten, twenty, thirty or a hundred times in the holy Sacrament of Penance. Meditate to-day on this boundless, unspeakable love for sinners, and ask yourself to what extent do you resemble our Lord in His love for those poor wandering sheep, and in what way do you evince that love?
3d. Consider how much this love for sinners cost your Saviour. Alas! even the first grace which was granted to you in baptism, deliverance from original sin and a share in sanctifying grace, was purchased at a high price. Think how, in order to procure this blessing for you, He came down from Heaven, and for three and thirty years went about the land of Palestine, a Good Shepherd seeking the lost sheep of His fold. He goes down into the deep valleys, He traverses the dark glades of the forest, He ascends the mountain heights; the hill country of Judea re-echoes with the voice of the Shepherd, calling to His sheep, the meadows of Palestine are bedewed with His tears, moistened with the sweat of His sacred countenance; He rests not until He has found the stray lamb, and even though for this purpose He must climb the steep and painful road that leads to Calvary and thence descend into the gloomy abyss of death, His love for sinners does not count this too great a sacrifice. You will perhaps imagine that such charity as this must surely be enough. And yet were not the charity of Christ still greater, you and many thousands of mankind would be lost, lost eternally, for how few there are who preserve their baptismal innocence, that grace so dearly purchased; and what would become of you and countless others but for the “second plank” of salvation, the Sacrament of Penance? My soul, how often you have already received that sacrament; have you ever thought how boundless is the compassion, how infinite the charity Jesus displays in that sacrament? Have you given thanks for it as you ought?
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)
PRAYER WHICH ST. GERTRUDE RECITED DAILY.
I salute thee, O Heart of Jesus my Saviour, vivifying and immutable source of joy and eternal life, infinite treasure of divinity, furnace of pure love; thou art my refuge and shelter, Thou art all to me. O loving Heart, fill my heart with the same fervor which inflames Thine. Bestow on me those abundant graces of which Thou art the source. Let my soul be always united to Thine, and let my will be continually subject to Thee. I have but one desire, that is that the rule of my actions, the object of my thoughts and sentiments, be Thine holy and infallible will. Amen.
Jesus, who art meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto thy heart. (300 days indulgence.)
Sweet Heart of Jesus, enkindle me with Thy love. (300 days indulgence.)
Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy upon us. (100 days indulgence.)
Be loved everywhere O Sacred Heart of Jesus!(100 days indulgence.)
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