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 Obedience which Our Lord Teaches Us by His Example.
Picture to yourself the moment wherein our Lord, in the act of expiring, exclaims: “It is consummated.” The work is accomplished which God the Father gave Him to do; the decree, the will of God is accomplished, to fulfil which the first-born Son of God came down from heaven; the great act of obedience is performed, by means of which the world, ruined by disobedience, is to be redeemed. Look, my soul, upon your Saviour, upon Him who was obedient, obedient even to the death of the cross; hear Him even with His latest breath exhorting you to practise this virtue, proclaiming to you its necessity.
1st. Consider these words of the Apostle: “As by the disobedience of one man many were made sinners, so also by the obedience of one many shall be made just.” (Rom. v. 19.) Consider, and recount to yourself the disastrous consequences of Adam’s disobedience and the blessing ensuing from Christ’s obedience; compare the state of the world after the act of disobedience committed by the first Adam with its condition subsequently to the death upon the cross of the second Adam in obedience to the divine will, and you will thence learn the importance, the exceeding excellence of the virtue of obedience. Not in vain did Jesus practise this virtue throughout His life and at His death. According to the opinion of St. Augustine one of the motives Jesus had in becoming man was to teach us obedience. Now it behooves you, my soul, you who as a Priest, as a Religious have accepted as your special work, have in fact made it the great aim of your life to imitate the life of our Lord, to copy Him above all in the practice of obedience. Remember what the Apostle says: “By the disobedience of one many were made sinners, but the obedience of one shall make many just,” and reflect upon these words of St. Bonaventure: “The whole perfection of a Religious consists in the entire renunciation of his own will in order to fulfil the will of another. Consequently it will profit thee nothing to have abandoned all earthly things so long as thou dost not give up thy own will for the sake of entirely submitting to all that obedience requires of thee.”
2d. Consider how exact and literal is the obedience our Lord yields. How often we read in the Gospels: “This was done that the Scriptures might be fulfilled.” Our Lord’s last words: “It is consummated,” are to be taken in their widest meaning. Not until He had accomplished all that was given Him to do, all that was written of Him, did He resign His spirit into the hands of His heavenly Father. See how in His last moments, when the final terrible conflict with death was already begun, He exclaims: “I thirst!” in order obediently to fulfil the last prophecy which yet remained unfulfilled, these words of Holy Writ: “They gave Me gall for My food, and in My thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink.” (Ps. Ixviii. 22.) Learn of Jesus in this respect. Hear the exhortation St. Ignatius addresses to his disciples: “Let all take heed to observe the rule of obedience, and let them distinguish themselves by this, that they do not confine their obedience to that which duty requires of them, but that they also obey in other and minor matters every indication, however slight, of the will of their Superior. “The monk who is truly obedient,” writes Albertus Magnus, “never waits to have a command laid upon him, but as soon as he knows, or thinks that he knows what is his Superior’s will, he executes it as promptly as if it were a command, because Christ our Lord and Saviour acted thus.” Ask yourself what is your conduct in this respect?
3d. Consider how it is in obedience that our Lord dies. From the moment when He, an infant eight days old, for the first time shed His blood in the temple at Jerusalem in conformity to the law, until the instant when the last drop of His blood trickled out of His wounded side, His whole life was one long series of acts of obedience. It was to fulfil the will of His heavenly Father that He sat faint and weary, but forgetful of weariness and hunger, at Jacob’s well, and it was to accomplish the same divine will that He hung upon the cross, that He expired with this glorious testimony on His dying lips: “It is consummated”; thus proclaiming before heaven and earth that He had done all that obedience had laid upon Him. Would that you too, my soul, might so live and die in obedience, for then you would live for God and die for God. “Father,” a dying monk once said to his Superior, “you know that I have lived in obedience to you; now I desire to die in that same obedience. Therefore I beseech you bid me thus die in obedience, as Christ our Redeemer gave up His spirit on the cross in obedience to His heavenly Father.” Such is the language of the Christian who has learnt of Jesus to obey. Look, my soul, into this mirror, and see how your conduct appears.