Friday after the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost.

On the Contempt of the World which our Lord’s Passion Teaches 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 Contempt of the World which our Lord’s Passion Teaches Us.

To follow Christ with entire surrender of self and undivided affection, with complete detachment from creatures and perfect contempt of the world, was the lesson to be learnt from yesterday’s meditation. Yet simple as this lesson is, it is strongly opposed to our fallen nature. Wherefore listen to-day to the voice of another preacher of this same truth; take your stand before the cross whereon your Saviour hangs, bleeding, expiring, and understand how in His Passion He preaches to you contempt of the world.

1st. Consider that our Lord upon the cross shows His contempt for the world inasmuch as He treads under foot all the pleasures of the world. That which causes our heart to cling to the world is our carnal nature, and the gratification which the world affords to the flesh. Now contemplate your Lord upon the cross, and see how relentlessly He wages war upon the flesh, that mighty foe of mankind, a foe so powerful as to overcome Samson, the strongest of men, and Solomon, the wisest of sages. This foe Christ pursues to his most secret hiding-places; He allows him no other couch than the hard wood of the cross, no other pillow than a crown bristling with thorns; nothing to please the palate but vinegar and gall, nothing to enchant the ear but shouts of scorn and derision. Learn hence, carnal man, how you ought to treat your flesh, your greatest, most formidable adversary. Alas! how differently you act! How soft is your couch, how liberal your table! How eager you are for pleasures and how averse to all pain! Yet you complain of your hard struggles with your rebel nature. Blame yourself for this, not your enemy.

2d. Consider how Jesus upon the cross shows His contempt for the world inasmuch as He treads under foot worldly honors and renown. See how He, the sovereign Lord of Heaven and earth, has no throne but a gallows, the cross of shame; no crown but a circlet of thorns from the wayside, no sceptre but a hollow reed, no signet ring but the wounds in His bleeding hands, no royal mantle but a ragged purple robe, stained with gore; no retinue but two highway robbers crucified beside Him. Such is the regal state of the King of kings, and you, His creature, a criminal who but for God’s grace would be condemned to hell, you desire ever to inhale the incense of the world’s adulation, of earthly fame. Your rank is too low to please you, your calling too humble, your position too insignificant; your worth is not recognized as it should be the vanity of the human heart! Look at the cross, man, and learn of Jesus to despise the world in this respect also. Reflect a moment: Every one who seeks his own glory is no better than a common thief. For what does his glory consist in? Physical or intellectual superiority, the possession of the good things of earth or the gifts of Heaven? But all that comes from God, therefore to Him alone the glory is due, and if you take it to yourself you rob God.

3d. Consider how Jesus upon the cross preaches contempt of the world by His extreme poverty. So thoroughly did He despise the possessions, the riches which are the bonds that attach the heart to the world, that He departs out of the world in a state of destitution unequalled before or after. He to whom belong the heavens and the earth, expires, expires bare and naked, whereas the poorest beggar is not without a shroud. He expires upon a gallows, whereas the most wretched of mortals has at least a bed of straw at the hour of death. He expires, and in His last agony no one moistens His parched lips with a drop of water, an alleviation not denied to the meanest criminal. He expires, and is laid in the sepulchre of a stranger, for He does not own the few feet of earth required for a grave. Look, my soul, in this mirror. You who are a Priest daily hold in your hands Jesus, the model of poverty; you hold Him in hands that count gold so covetously, hands that are “so sparing in giving, so tenacious in retaining.” You are a Religious, you have pledged yourself to follow the Saviour in His poverty; supposing that you were to die now, what would your dying bed be compared with that on which your Lord expired, your poverty at the hour of death compared to that of your Saviour when He breathed His last upon the cross? Ask yourself this, and according to the result of the comparison form your resolutions for the future.

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)

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