On the Healing of the Man with the Unclean Spirit in the Synagogue at Capharnaum.
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 Man with the Unclean Spirit in the Synagogue at Capharnaum.
To-day you are invited to contemplate our Lord as a great worker of miracles. Picture to yourself the striking scene, on which no one can look unmoved, portrayed by the Evangelist St. Mark. In His sublime majestic dignity Jesus stands before the man who is possessed, and speaking with the authority of an almighty, sovereign Ruler, cries aloud: “Speak no more, and go out of the man.” (St. Mark i. 25.) Crying out with a loud voice and violently tearing his unfortunate victim, the unclean spirit is forced to obey. How amazed the Jews must have been at this miracle!
1st. Consider the significance of our Lord’s miracles in general. Jesus Christ came into the world in the character of the Saviour, Redeemer, Rescuer of mankind, and such He now shows Himself to be by His miracles. He provides a remedy for human misery in all its diverse shapes, whether it be the sufferings of the outward, visible man, the maladies, manifold and multiform, to which man is subject from his cradle to his grave, or the hidden sorrows of the soul through the various degrees of guilt, pangs of conscience, spiritual death, and possession. By His miracles our Lord displays His power over sin and the consequences of sin, over corporal and spiritual miseries, and also exhibits His charity, the charity of Him who came to the help of all mankind. Consider in the second place, that the external miracles our Lord wrought are the outward and visible signs and pledges of the yet greater inward and spiritual miracles of grace, the graces He conveyed to us in the sacraments and sacramentals. Thus we find that for the most part the institution or proclamation of one of these miracles of grace is preceded by an outward, visible miracle. The miraculous multiplication of the loaves took place shortly before our Lord promulgated the doctrine of the Holy Eucharist. He healed the man with the palsy before He said to him: “Thy sins are forgiven thee”; and He raised Lazarus to life from the dead before He delivered Himself to be put to death to save us from everlasting death. Thus every work our Lord wrought possesses, besides its apparent aim and object, a higher, mystic signification. You also could impart to your works, even to the most unimportant actions, a higher import, a greater value, if you were always to perform them in a state of grace and with a good intention. Do you do this?
2d. Consider in detail the different incidents of the miraculous cure of the man who was possessed. “There was a man with an unclean spirit,” we are told in the Gospel. At his creation the purest, most beautiful of spirits, the nature of the devil is utterly perverted and corrupted by sin, and this unclean spirit has now taken up his abode in a human being, in a creature, that is, who was made in the image of God, destined to be the dwelling, the temple of the Holy Ghost. You will perhaps sigh over the sad contrast thus presented, but ask yourself whether you also are not in this pitiable condition? Look into your heart; scrutinize your thoughts, your desires; pay attention to your custody of the eyes, and then consider the words we read in Holy Scripture: “There was in the synagogue,” in a hallowed spot therefore and you are the inmate of such a place a man in the power of an unclean spirit. “And he cried out with a loud voice,” St. Mark adds; the presence of Jesus disquieted him, for as the Ven. Bede says, the presence of one who is holy is a torment to the devil. Impurity and sanctity have as little in common as fire and water. Hence it comes that you have a distaste for prayer, that you experience aridity in meditation, weariness in the church; that Holy Communion profits you little, as soon as impure thoughts or sinful desires creep into your heart, or perhaps the consciousness of some wrongful act weighs on your conscience. Offer your prayers to-day to Jesus, the great Worker of miracles, for all the unhappy individuals who in the synagogue, in holy and hallowed places, the Priest at the altar, the Religious in the seclusion of the cloister, are “men with an unclean spirit,” torn and harried by an evil conscience, that cries out in the near presence of the Holy One.
3d. Consider two other details of this miracle. The man who was possessed cried out to our Lord: “Thou art the Holy One of God.” Jesus answers: “Speak no more.” Eternal Truth will not permit a liar to bear witness to Him. By this our Lord would teach us never to lend an ear to evil spirits, even when they speak the truth, for since they are the enemies of our salvation and liars from the beginning they only employ truths as baits, whereby to deceive us. Consider that attentively, my soul, and not nearly so often be deluded when Satan puts forward truths, or even virtues, as a trap to ensnare you. He did the same thing when he tempted our Lord, quoting passages of Scripture, the utterances of the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of eternal truth. Observe in the second place, that Satan tore the unfortunate man, and cried out yet more loudly when he went out of him. This, St. Gregory tells us, was intended to teach us that the devil, if he is driven out of a man by the grace of conversion, often assails him more vehemently than before. Lay this truth to heart for your comfort. It is no bad sign; on the contrary, it is a good sign if you have a greater number of temptations, more violent struggles to sustain after your conversion, after you have abandoned the world, after you have received the holy sacraments, than you had previously. It shows that Satan is afraid that he will lose his prey. Wherefore do not lose heart, but fight on valiantly; you are not alone in the synagogue where Satan tears you, for Jesus is with 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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