On the Miraculous Draught of Fishes.
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 Miraculous Draught of Fishes.
Contemplate the picture which the Gospel for this day places before your eyes. In the midst of lovely scenery lies the lake of Genesareth. The shores of the fair and smiling lake are clothed with beautiful, tender verdure; the air is laden with the delicious fragrance emitted by the flowers and aromatic herbs of field and meadow; it resounds with the joyous matutinal song of countless feathered songsters; the golden rays of the sun, rising in the east, are reflected a thousandfold in rainbow tints in the sparkling drops of dew. What a charming landscape! Yet while all around in nature is cheerful and pleasing, the disciples appear sad and out of spirits. What is the reason of this? Listen and you will know.
1st. “We have labored all the night and have taken nothing.” (St. Luke v. 5.) In these words St. Peter gives the answer to your inquiry. The livelong night they have been laboring, and what is the result of their toil? Their nets were full of slime, mud and stones, they were bedraggled and torn, but there was not one single fish in them. What a miserable night they have spent! How fruitless was their labor! Here, my soul, you have an image of the condition of the sinner, the sinner who is in a state of mortal sin. He sails on the sea of this life amid the shades of night, the darkness of the night that shrouds his soul; day by day he casts out the net, his daily toil and work; he may take great pains, he may perhaps be constantly active, allowing himself no respite, no rest and with what result? Alas! he is compelled to say with St. Peter: “I have labored throughout the whole night of my mortal life and have taken nothing, absolutely nothing of any merit for life everlasting.” Yet there is something in the sinner’s net. Not, however, the fish of his good works and meritorious actions, only the mud and refuse of sin, the stones of an oppressed conscience. For even his good works are dead as regards eternity, they are entirely without merit. Have compassion, my soul, on those unhappy sinners who labor throughout the whole long night of their earthly existence, who are obliged to work hard as laborers, servants, artisans, and who yet take nothing, because they are in mortal sin. Pray for them, labor for their conversion; and if you are yourself in a like case, if you are spending yourself in such fruitless labor, have compassion on your own soul in the first place, and spare no effort to escape this very day out of that fatal darkness.
2d. Consider how abundant a draught of fishes the disciples took after Jesus had entered into the boat and the nets had been let down at His command. The unblest night was then over; with Christ the light of day appears with all its attendant blessings. If Christ is in your boat, if you are united to Him, if you are in a state of grace, then as often as you let down your net at His word, that is to say, with a good intention, you will take an abundant draught, for all your actions, however trivial they may be, however unimportant, nay, even unworthy of mention, are each and all fishes, good fishes; that is, they are of merit for eternal life. Thus every day of your life will be as well filled as were the nets of the disciples, because all that you do, your every act, even eating, sleeping, recreation, is done for God, if your intention is rightly directed. “Full days shall be found in them” (Ps. Ixxii. 10) says the Psalmist, speaking of the just; but alas! Perhaps your days are empty and void. Bewail your past negligence and henceforth never omit by the act of good intention that you make every morning, by the work you accomplish in a state of grace, to draw in every day a plentiful draught of fishes.
3d. Consider the higher, the mystic meaning of the miraculous draught of fishes. Observe that the vocation of the apostles to the actual work of the apostolate followed immediately upon it. Not until this miracle had taken place did they follow our Lord constantly. Thus, according to the explanation St. Augustine gives of this passage, it was intended that the men who were called to the apostolate should see in the miracle that was the reward of their exertions, a type of what would be the nature of the work before them, and what would be its fruit. The apostles, by casting the net of their sacred ministry far and wide in the ocean of the different nations peopling the world, were to gather together the various races of mankind, the good and the bad into one visible Church. Through the number and diversity of the individuals thus united in one body, temptations and dangers could not fail to arise, threatening to rend the unity of the Church by schism and heresy. But the Church, protected by her divine Head, cannot be rent asunder. By means of united effort and the fraternal aid of the bishops and of all who are in any wise called to assist in the work of evangelization (symbolized by the disciples in the other ships who hastened to help their partners) the Church brings the elect in safety to their goal, she lands them on the shores of the eternal country. Thus it will be seen that every single point of the miracle proposed for our consideration to-day is typical of the Church of Christ. Ponder it well, my soul, and in conclusion observe this one thing more: Every day God’s fisherman, Death, lets down his net into the ocean of humanity. Sooner or later you will be taken in this net, and when the angels on the shore of the other world separate the good from the bad, will they supposing that you are taken in your present state choose you out with the good to be served on the heavenly table, or will they cast you forth as being bad and useless?
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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