On Vigilance in Preserving the Virtue of Chastity.
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 Vigilance in Preserving the Virtue of Chastity.
Contemplate for a brief space the beauteous, glorious image which the virtue of chastity presents. Pass in review before your mental vision the fair forms of those virginal souls, who in their stainless purity follow the immaculate Lamb; dwell in thought upon the happiness, the peace, the joy of heart that the innocent enjoy, and then remember that we carry this priceless treasure in fragile vessels, and we ought to lay to heart the warning our Lord gave us, when He addressed the following words in solemn earnestness to the disciples:
1st. “I say unto you that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (St. Matt. v. 28.) These stern words from our Lord’s lips ought to be a powerful incentive to us to keep watch over our eyes with special care. “As soon,” says St. Ephrem, “as thou dost neglect to observe custody of the eyes, thy chastity is in danger.” For as water escapes if there be a crack in the conduit-pipe, so chastity will speedily be lost if the soul spends itself on external things. “Death is come up through the windows,” says the prophet Jeremias. (ch. ix. 21.) Again, the same prophet says in the Lamentations (iii. 51): “My eye hath wasted my soul.” Just as a spark falling upon straw will occasion a great conflagration, so a single glance will not unfrequently kindle the fire of concupiscence within the soul. Ponder these words of Holy Scripture, these utterances of the saints and of your divine Teacher; think how an incautious look at a person of the other sex has perhaps caused you many a painful struggle which lasted weeks or even months.
2d. Consider the words immediately following upon those cited above: “If thy right eye scandalize thee, pluck it out.” (v. 29.) If it is a grievous sin to look upon persons of the other sex to lust after them, take heed that you avoid everything that might give rise to such a sin; pluck out before all else the lustful eye, that is to say, keep it in check, refrain from useless, bold, wandering glances. Holy Job once said: “I made a covenant with my eyes, that I would not so much as think upon a virgin.” (Job xxxi. 1.) “He knew full well,” St. Gregory remarks, “that through the eyes evil thoughts will penetrate into the heart, and that careful custody of the eyes and of the doors of the senses is requisite to secure the safety of the heart and of the powers of the soul.” Examine yourself, my soul, in this respect, see how it is with you concerning the custody of your eyes. St. Francis, our Seraphic Father, used not to allow himself to drink sufficient cold water to quench his thirst, because he thought it was a difficult matter to satisfy nature without gratifying the senses and thus committing perhaps a venial sin; but you, alas! are so unguarded, so incautious, that you allow all freedom to your outward senses, to your eyes preeminently. How long do you mean to do thus?
3d. Consider that our Lord expressly says: “If thy right eye scandalize thee, pluck it out.” St. Chrysostom explains the right eye as signifying a good intention, a good will. But, you will ask, how can my good intention become a cause of scandal, a source of temptation to me? Listen to what the same saint adds: “If I visit a woman in the interest of religion, that is a good intention, a right eye. But if through the frequency of my visits I were to feel a sensual attraction to her, or if others took scandal at them, my right eye would scandalize me. Then the behest must be obeyed: Pluck it out; discontinue the good work which you commenced with a pure intention.” Impress this deeply upon your mind. Do not trust the right eye. Fear this so-called holy, supernatural affection for persons of the other sex; shun close association with them for reasons of a religious nature; dread it as you would dread fire, nay even more than fire. It is the opinion of all the Fathers, more especially of St. Bonaventure, that spiritual affection is apt to degenerate into carnal love. How many, says our Seraphic Father, have been led to form friendships with the idea that their intercourse was subservient only to the glory of God, the salvation of souls! Yet by degrees this pure, holy love lost its supernatural character. Other feelings arose, the conversation assumed an altered tone. “Whereas you began by the Spirit, you would now be made perfect by the flesh” (Gal. iii. 3), says the Apostle. Therefore pluck out the right eye ruthlessly. And if you are a Priest, a Confessor, make a resolution this very day, never on any consideration to hold intercourse with the souls committed to your charge, if persons of the softer sex, except in the church, when called to their sick-room, or when your sacred office requires it of you. And then let your visits be brief and keep watch over your senses, for if you do so – mark – this death will be made more easy to you.
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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