On Perfect Justice according to Our Lord’s Teaching.
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 Perfect Justice according to Our Lord’s Teaching.
Represent to yourself to-day our Lord in His capacity of Teacher; behold Him standing before the people, who were astonished at the wisdom He displayed, and “were in admiration of His doctrine, for He was teaching them as one having power, and not as the Scribes and Pharisees.” (St. Matt. vii. 28, 29.) Imagine yourself to be one of His audience; imagine yourself standing in person in the presence of this divine Master, listening to these words from His sacred lips: “Unless your justice abound more than that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (St. Matt. v. 20.)
1st. Consider that, according to the opinion of St. Chrysostom, by justice our Lord means us to understand virtue in general; perfect justice consists in the concord, the conformity of our every thought and action with the revealed will of God. As the magnet invariably points to the north, so the intention of the just man, in all he thinks or desires, in all he says or does, is always directed to God. God is his end, the will of God his actuating motive. Our evil proclivities seek to divert us from this directing of our intention towards God, hence St. Augustine says: “There alone is perfection (i.e. perfect justice) where concupiscence is no more, where all our senses are so completely subordinated to reason that we resist them even in sleep, the law of God being always present to our mind.” Scripture sketches the image of the just man when it says: “His heart is ready to hope in the Lord, his heart is strengthened, he shall not be moved until he look over his enemies.” (Ps. cxi. 8.) “His will is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he shall meditate day and night.” (Ps. i. 2.) Look into your own heart, examine yourself, and see whether your words and desires, your thoughts and deeds have God for their centre, both in regard to the range they take as well as in the motives that inspire them, the goal towards which they tend, for that alone constitutes perfect justice.
2d. Consider, in contrast to the perfect justice Christ demands of His followers, the justice practised by the Pharisees. They looked only to externals. They were satisfied if their works only had the appearance, bore the stamp of virtue. About what was within, the vivifying essence and soul of their outward actions, they cared but little. They avoided grievous sins that would be seen and known by men, but they committed secret sins without a qualm, and at the same time despised other men, as St. Thomas remarks. Hence the terrible denunciation that our Lord uttered upon them. My soul, make a careful scrutiny of yourself this very day; ascertain whether any of the leaven of the Pharisees still cleaves to you. There are Priests who are described by the people as “excellent workers,” who as far as externals go, perform the functions of their sacred calling without a flaw, but whose inner life leaves much to be desired in regard to the spirit of devotion, the aim, the motive of their actions. Again, there are Religious whose lives are entirely correct and in keeping with the Rule, but only according to the letter, and the letter killeth. They observe the rule of silence, but all the time their thoughts are occupied exclusively with earthly things, or they read books that are worldly and only intended to amuse, and thus they are more untrue to the spirit of recollection and reflection while they keep silence, than they would be if they talked. They fast as the Rule requires, but in the choice of meagre aliments and the amount they take they are more fastidious, less abstemious than people in the world who do not fast. They go to the choir at the regular times, but their ascriptions of praise differ little from the clang of the bell; they obey their Superior, but in a perfunctory manner and with inward reluctance. O my soul, beware lest you become a just man such as those Pharisees, and ponder the words: “It is the Spirit that quickeneth.” (St. John vi. 64.)
3d. Consider this that our Lord says: “You shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven.” Christ says expressly: “enter” not “you shall not be in Heaven,” or “be taken up into Heaven” in order to make it plain to us that we must ourselves walk in the way, pursue the path to Heaven. Thus our life is a pilgrimage, a journey to the kingdom of Heaven. Our entrance into the world is the first step of that journey. To each human being a certain time is appointed within which that journey is to be accomplished. Woe betide the man who stands still, for he is at fault who ceases to advance, not to speak of those who diverge from the way. “We shall not go back,” St. Augustine says, “so long as we aspire to the attainment of that which is before us. But as soon as we begin to stand still we are lost, for where there is no progression there is retrogression.” “Those who walk in the way of the spiritual life,” says St. Gregory, “resemble a man in the midst of a fast-flowing river. If for a single moment he ceases his exertions, and does not struggle against the force of the current, he is in danger of being carried away by the stream.” The path we have to pursue is one which is at variance with the inclinations of our sinful nature. Unless we strive with all our might to go forward, we shall be carried away by the force of our passions and swallowed up in the abyss. “Thou hast yet a great way to go” (III. Kings xix. 7), so Holy Scripture declares; therefore do not stand still, but press onward with all your energy, and do not content yourself with the ordinary justice of persons living in the world or of half-hearted Religious, who wear the habit yet have not the spirit of religion, for to them our Lord’s words are addressed: “Unless your justice abound more than that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven.”
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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