On the Avoidance of Vainglory in the Performance of Good Works.
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 Avoidance of Vainglory in the Performance of Good Works.
Represent to yourself the Pharisees in their anxiety to have all their good works trumpeted forth, to let all men, nay, the whole world, know if they perchance fasted or gave an alms. Now there appears amongst them a Teacher armed with divine power, who castigates this habit in the severest terms. Fix your gaze on that heavenly Teacher during the meditation to-day.
1st. “Take heed that you do not your justice before men, to be seen by them.” (St. Matt. vi. 1.) This is the first precept our Lord enjoins on us, and in it He does not so much forbid us to do good before men, for He Himself says: “Let your light shine before men” (St. Matt. v. 15), but what He forbids us is to do good in order to be seen and praised by men. He intends to warn us against that subtle craving for fame and honor which is so prone to attach itself to our good works, and which robs them of all merit, nay more, renders them evil instead of good. Rodriguez explains this by an excellent illustration. “If a wife were to adorn her person with the view of pleasing another man, not her husband, she would unquestionably be doing her husband a great wrong. Now good works are the ornaments of the soul. If thou dost perform them in order to please any other beside God, you commit a grievous, a crying act of injustice towards Him.” This is the reason why the saints warn us so solemnly against allowing this vainglory to accompany our good works; for it is a secret thief who frequently purloins our good works. Or it may be compared, says St. Gregory, to a brigand who joins a traveller under the hypocritical pretence of being desirous for his companionship, and presently, when the other is off his guard, falls on him, robs and murders him. Alas, how often, my soul, you have fallen into the hands of that robber!
2d. Consider that on account of this danger, our Lord exhorts us: “When thou dost alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doth.” (v. 3.) St. Chrysostom thus interprets this passage. By the right hand you are to understand the good work which you perform, by the left the self-complacency of your own heart. If with your right hand you do a good work, your left hand, vain self-satisfaction, seizes upon it and takes it away. Consequently you should not let the left hand know what the right hand does. Much as it is to be desired that men should be edified by our good works and take example by us, equally is it to be dreaded lest in performing them we should aim at obtaining praise and honor of men. Guard against this carefully; the saints were grieved if they received honor from men on account of what they had done, fearing lest it should be said to them: “Son, remember that thou didst receive good things in thy life time.” (St. Luke xvi. 25.) Do you feel a like fear, are you thus disquieted, my soul? Henceforth never omit every morning at the commencement of the day, as well as before every good work you may do in its course, to direct your intention, saying: “For Thy glory, my God.” Then if some thought of vanity penetrates your mind, you can say: “You come too late, all is already consecrated to God.” It is said of St. Bernard that if perchance any self-complacent thought suggested itself to him when he was preaching, he checked it with the words: “Not for thy sake have I begun, and certainly not for thee shall I leave off.”
3d. Consider these words: “Thy Father, who sees in secret, will repay thee.” (v. 4.) Herein is announced to you the reward, the exceeding great reward which will be your portion if, heedless of human praise, you do good quietly and unobtrusively. Thus you will attain without spiritual injury to yourself the very thing which the Pharisees desired to their own detriment, publicity, to be seen. For, as St. Chrysostom remarks, you will have not merely the angels and archangels to look on and witness your good deeds, but God Himself. And if you want your virtue to be made known, never fear, that too will come to pass, but not now when it would be hurtful for you, but hereafter, to your true glory. Now there would be perhaps ten, twenty, or a hundred persons who would applaud you, and by their laudation deprive you of your recompense, whereas at the day of the universal judgment your virtue will be revealed, the good works you did in secret will be made open, proclaimed before the whole world, before all the angels and saints, and God Himself will speak your praise, and His praise will not work your ruin, but your eternal felicity. Wherefore leave vain things to the vain, and choose for your motto the words of the prophet: “I will not give my glory to another” (Is. xlii. 8), and repeat those which the Apostle spoke: “To the only God be honor and glory.” (I. Tim. i. 17.)
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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