On the Conduct to Be Pursued Toward those Who Offend Us or Who Are Our Enemies.
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 Conduct to Be Pursued Toward those Who Offend Us or Who Are Our Enemies.
Fix your eyes on the divine Teacher; observe how with overflowing gentleness and loving-kindness He dispenses the bread of His heavenly doctrine to the assembled multitudes; how He proclaims the consoling, priceless, celestial truth to all alike without exception, both to the docile disciples and to the Scribes and Pharisees whose hearts are full of hatred and hostility. Whosoever has ears to hear may hear the truths of salvation. Thus our Lord by act and in deed gives a practical confirmation of the precept He enunciates, the precept of fraternal charity, that comprehensive, all-embracing charity which is to be extended to friend and foe alike. Listen in spirit to the words of the divine Teacher.
1st. “I say unto you not to resist evil” (St. Matt. v. 39); that is to say, do not resist the malicious offender. It is of course not meant that the authorities are not to punish evildoers, nor are we told that it is wrong to take measures for the protection, the defence of our good name, or prevent our property from being stolen. The one thing that is most strictly and emphatically forbidden is personal revenge, which is so prone to creep in under the appearance of lawful resistance or just punishment. How much men deceive themselves in this respect, and not only men of the world, but Priests also and Religious, for under the cloak of justice they cherish in their hearts the desire for revenge. Not for anything in the world, one says, would I have any misfortune happen to my brother, but I should like to say a few sharp, severe words to him, just to show him his fault. That reason is only a pretext; it is in reality the bitterness of the heart which would fain vent itself by speaking bitterly to the offender. Another will perhaps exult when the one who has offended him is blamed and humiliated, saying it will be a salutary lesson for him. There again the man deceives himself; it is his thirst for revenge that is gratified. A third says: I wish him no evil, but I will have nothing more to do with him in future, for the sake of peace. No, that is also a delusion; it is bitterness of heart, a sense of injury that leads him to say that he will have nothing more to do with his brother. Does God have nothing more to do with us, who offend against Him daily? On the contrary, He deals with us most tenderly, most lovingly. Therefore “be merciful, forgive one another even as God hath forgiven you.” (Eph. iv. 32.) Obey this admonition of the Apostle, do not resist evil under the pretext of justice; in other words, suppress every desire for revenge, even the least and slightest.
2d. Consider the perfection attained by those who obey this precept which our Lord lays down, who obey it literally, and bear affronts and persecutions without resistance. Observe that it is precisely in this that the generous, self-sacrificing courage that characterizes Christianity, its perfection, is displayed, inasmuch as it presents this virtue in a degree that cannot be surpassed to our view in the person of Him who brought this doctrine to earth from Heaven, Christ Jesus, the wondrous pattern and example of celestial patience towards those who insulted Him, who persecuted and crucified Him. Observe also how the holy martyrs followed eagerly in His footsteps; observe how every individual disciple of Christ and bearer of His cross, as well as the whole Church of God, from the outset faithful to His divine teaching, has at all times met the rising tide of hatred and calumniation with an ever-increasing degree of that charity which rejoices in suffering and is ready to forgive. Observe all this, and you will no longer find it a hard and difficult task to act in conformity with this truly celestial teaching. You will rather find cause for gladness in perceiving to what a high degree of evangelical perfection God has called you, and you will make it your practice, above all in trifling matters, in your daily intercourse with others, to obey the divine command: “Resist not evil.”
3d. Consider that our Lord is not content with enjoining this upon us; He goes yet further, exhorting us thus: “Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you.” (v. 41.) Now consider, according to St. Chrysostom’s gloss, what are the several steps by which our Lord would lead us to the summit of perfect virtue. The first step is, not to be the one to give offence; the second, not to revenge yourself by doing to the offender what he did to you; the third, to abstain from retaliating in any manner; the fourth, to allow yourself to be ill-treated without resisting; the fifth, to prepare yourself to endure more than the offender has already inflicted on you; “Turn to him also the other cheek” (v. 39) our Lord says; the sixth, not to dislike him who has offended you; the seventh, to love him; the eighth and highest, to do good to him and pray for him. Ask yourself upon which step you stand. Perhaps you have not even set your foot on the first, and yet you will have to mount them all, for mark what our Lord adds in conclusion: “That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven, who maketh His sun to shine upon the good and bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust.” (v. 45.) Thus you see that your likeness to God depends upon your obeying this precept. Love for your enemies will make you a true child of your Father in Heaven; it will exalt you, who are dust and ashes, and fashion you to the image of God. St. Chrysostom says that because the commandment was great, the reward attached to keeping it is also great, likeness to God. Do you possess this divine resemblance, my soul? Your conduct towards those who offend you will give the answer to this query.
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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