On the Contrition which Our Lord’s Passion Should Excite in Us.
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 Contrition which Our Lord’s Passion Should Excite in Us.
To-day, when special remembrance is made of our Lord’s death, raise your eyes to the crucifix, and behold how the great Teacher and Worker of miracles whose infinite charity you have with thankfulness and joyfulness of heart been contemplating in the course of your meditations, now hangs upon the cross in agony; He, the innocent, is suffering for you, the guilty. There is no more painful sight, nothing is more calculated to inspire us with sentiments of deep sympathy and pity, than the sight of a child tortured by agonizing pain. Innocence suffering appeals not in vain to the stoniest heart. Yet you can look day by day on your crucified Lord, on suffering innocence, and feel no grief, nor even compunction for your sins, which He who is perfect innocence is expiating. Oh consider this, that from henceforth you may be moved to contrition by meditating upon the Passion of Christ.
1st. Consider what unutterable grief a son would feel who through carelessness had inflicted a severe wound upon his father. The sight of the sufferer would cut him to the heart; every groan the sick man uttered would pierce his soul like a sword; how tortured with remorse for his want of caution that son would be; and if the injury he had caused were to prove fatal, imagine if you can what his feelings would be when he stood beside his father’s death-bed or at the grave where his greatest benefactor was interred. Now ask yourself, my soul, where is a parent to be met with whose love for his children equals that of Christ for us? This Father is the author not only of our terrestrial being, but of our heavenly life; this Father provides us not merely with material bread, but with the supersubstantial bread, His own body and blood. Now behold Him covered with wounds, behold Him in His agony and distress, behold His features overspread with a deadly pallor, and remember that you, His own child, have caused your Father this suffering, this woe, and caused it not in advertently, but with deliberate malice. Is it possible, if this be true, that you can look upon Jesus crucified without experiencing contrition, most bitter contrition?
2d. Consider that we read how a great tempest once arose in the sea on which was the ship that had on board the prophet Jonas. When the storm went on increasing in fury, when alarm and terror seized on all the passengers, and even the weather-beaten mariners began to grow pale, Jonas, awakened out of a deep sleep, felt pity for the terrified and trembling ship’s company. He acknowledged and confessed himself to be the guilty cause of the great tempest, and uttered these magnanimous words, worthy of one of God’s prophets: “Take me up, and cast me into the sea; for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.” (Jonas i. 12.) It is not your fellow mortals but your God; not sinners but the Just One whom you, my soul, see tossed in the stormy ocean of pain and distress, whom you behold in the agony of death, pallid through suffering; oh why then do you not penitently acknowledge that for your sake this tempest has come upon Calvary; why do you not like Magdalen embrace the cross which your sins have fashioned, shedding abundant tears of compunction; why do you not cry aloud with David: “It is I, I am he that have sinned; I have done wickedly. Let Thy hand, I beseech Thee, be turned against me.” (II. Kings xxiv. 17.)
3d. Consider that you are much worse than Judas, if our Lord’s Passion does not move you to contrition. For although Judas fell so deeply that he sold and betrayed his Master, yet, when he saw the consequences of his shameful treachery, when he saw his Master led away to torture and to death, such terrible remorse took possession of him that he threw down the price of blood at the feet of the priests, and, beside himself with grief, exclaimed: “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood”; finally, in despairing regret for what he had done, he went and hanged himself. His was not, of a truth, the right kind of sorrow, but instead of despising the unhappy apostle for the lack of that right contrition which proved his perdition, lament and bewail your own lack, not of right contrition only, but of all contrition; do not show yourself to be a worse man than Judas was, and do not rise to day from your meditation without awakening in your soul true compunction for your sins, the iniquities for which Christ was wounded, the transgressions for which He was bruised.
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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