On the Healing of the Ruler’s Son.
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 Healing of the Ruler’s Son.
Two days after our Lord had converted the Samaritan woman, He went on further into Galilee; and behold, when He had reached Cana there came to Him a certain ruler, entreating Him with all the earnestness that paternal affection and paternal anxiety could inspire on behalf of his dearly loved son, who was sick unto death. Keep this touching scene before your eyes whilst you meditate to-day.
1st. The Evangelist simply tells us: “There was a certain ruler, whose son was sick at Capharnaum.” (St. John iv. 46.) By this son the soul of every servant of God, of every true believer, is signified, and this son now is said to be sick at Capharnaum. The meaning of the word Capharnaum is “city of pleasure,” of worldly, sensual pleasure. As soon as the soul betakes herself to that city, as soon as she throws herself into the vortex of gayety, mingles in the tumult of earth’s revelry, she falls sick, and is in danger of spiritual death. Have you not, my soul, often had this experience? Even now that you are an inmate of the cloister, do you not still again and yet again long for the Capharnaum of worldly joys, worldly delights; would you not fain go abroad to see the world again, to enjoy it for a little space? But why, as the author of the Imitation asks, “why dost thou wish to see what it is not permitted thee to have? The world passeth away and the desire of it. The desires of sense draw thee to walk abroad; but when the hour is past, what dost thou bring back, save a weight upon thy conscience and dissipation of heart? A joyous going abroad often brings forth a mournful return, and a late watch spent merrily makes a sad morning. So all carnal joy enters pleasantly, but in the end it bites and kills.” (Imit. B. i. ch. 20.) If with the son of the ruler you go down to-day to Capharnaum, to-morrow it will be said of you: “he lies sick at Capharnaum.”
2d. Consider the loving, fatherly solicitude of the ruler concerning his sick son. He immediately avails himself of the much-desired proximity of the great Worker of miracles, and hastens without delay to the true, the best Physician. How earnest were his entreaties, and when he perceived that our Lord hesitated to grant the aid he asked for, he was yet more instant in his supplications, imploring Him: “Lord, come down before that my son die.” (iv. 49.) Hence learn the love, the anxiety you ought to feel for your own soul when it is sick. If it is laid low by corrupt inclinations, by venial sin, by unruly appetites, wait not until the disease grows worse and mortal sin causes its death. Fly at once to the Saviour; cry, clamor for help. If you were to descry a little tongue of flame issuing from the roof of your house, how speedily you would run to fetch water for the purpose of extinguishing the first sparks, before they blazed up and caused a great conflagration. And if you were to feel the first symptoms of fever, you would immediately take to your bed, so as to check the malady in time, before it got too firm a hold on you. Yet if a dangerous spark of evil concupiscence falls into your soul, if the fever of rebellious passions makes itself felt in your breast, you look on calmly, and remain passive until the spark kindles a fire not easily extinguished, until the feverish attack attains the proportions of a deadly disease. What insensate folly! What cruelty towards your own soul!
3d. Consider that our Lord heals the sick youth without entering the ruler’s house, urgently though he implores Him to do so. St. Gregory says our Redeemer refused to go to the son of this man of high position, although He was willing to go to the centurion’s servant, in order to show that the saints count that of little value which men hold in high esteem, and do not despise what men think of small account. There is no respect of persons with God. Observe this, and learn of Jesus that in the cure of souls, in works of charity, in all the services you render to your neighbor, only to think of the soul you would benefit, and not of the rank or position of the individual; to be equally solicitous for the salvation of the meanest peasant as for that of the highest nobleman, for, as the Apostle says, before God “there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for all are one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. iii. 28.) How many Priests and Religious err in this respect, forgetting that an immortal soul, of priceless value, lies hid beneath the corduroy suit as well as beneath the silken robe; forgetting that the wrinkled face of the aged crone ought to have no less attraction for them than the pleasing features of a beauteous maiden. “We must not look at the exterior, but at the interior,” says St. Bernard, “we ought to pay no more heed to that which concerns the body than we should to a heap of rubbish, a dunghill covered with a coating of snow, or a whited sepulchre, for after all the body is neither more nor less than that.” “Those who labor for the salvation of souls,” says a celebrated Doctor of the Church, “ought not to regard differences of outward form nor even the difference of sex, but in each and all alike to see but one thing, an immortal, imperishable soul.” Impress this truth deeply upon your mind; it will preserve you from many a failure, many a fault.
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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