On Our Lord’s Passion As a Deterrent from Sin.
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 Our Lord’s Passion As a Deterrent from Sin.
Place before your mind your Saviour at some period of His Passion. Imagine, for instance, that you see Him standing in the court of Pilate’s house, His flesh cruelly torn and mangled by the scourges, wearing the crown of thorns on His pallid, blood-stained brow, turning upon you His merciful eyes, as He sorrowfully exclaims: “See what sin has done!” Is it possible that you do not hate and abhor the sin that has reduced your Saviour to such a condition, that you are not deterred from sin by the affecting spectacle that the Son of God presents?
1st. Consider this: Supposing that a mother whose husband had been murdered in a most barbarous manner were to tell her children the sad story of their father’s death, with tears and lamentations describing to them the fury of his murderers, the barbarities they practised, and finally showing them the blood-stained garments their unfortunate father wore on that fatal day; would not those be unnatural, depraved children if, instead of exhibiting the utmost hatred and execration of such a crime, they regarded it with complete indifference? Nay more, what would one say of them if they actually made friends with the assassins who put their father to death? Impossible, that is impossible, I hear you exclaim; but alas! you yourself are one of these unnatural children. How often does the Church, your mother, relate to you the woful, the awful story of the murder of your Father and Redeemer? how often does she recall to your mind, especially on every Friday, His death of agony? how often does she display before your sight in pictures and images, in the stations of the cross, His blood-stained raiment? And yet you remain cold and untouched, you do not conceive the slightest abhorrence of those who put your Lord to death – your sins, the sins of mankind. On the contrary you treat them in the most friendly manner. Can this really be so? Put this question to your own heart.
2d. Again, imagine that you see a traveller on the point of entering an extensive forest. At that moment a man at work close by calls to him and warns him not to take that road, for in the forest there is a very dangerous and venomous viper, against which no one is safe, and which has already caused the death of several strong, healthy men by its poisonous fangs. Would not the traveller in question deserve to be called a fool if he persisted in going alone, by an unfamiliar path, through that perilous wood? Surely the warning given him by that friendly voice would be enough to make him desist from his purpose. Yet, my soul, you act otherwise very frequently. You constantly see before you the sacred Victim slain by the bite of that serpent; you see Christ upon the cross, bleeding, dying on account of sin, that hellish serpent. It is sin which has caused the death of the mightiest in Israel; hear the warning cry of the prophet Isaias: “He was wounded for our iniquities, He was bruised for our sins.” (ch. liii. 5.) Can you listen to these affecting words and yet cast yourself into the arms of sin, of that which has brought the innocent Saviour to such a pass? Oh how blind you are! If the sinless Redeemer is subjected to so terrible a chastisement, if in the green wood they do these things, what will be done unto you, the dry, if you still do not let yourself be deterred from sin?
3d. Consider how often beacons are put up near the coast, to warn mariners off sunken rocks, upon which they might be likely to run. Now if a captain were so presumptuous as to pay no heed to the signal of danger, and consequently his vessel were to go to pieces on the rocks, would you not be the first to say: “He has only himself to blame, because he would not be warned”? “Out of thy own mouth I judge thee.” (St. Luke xix. 22.) Is it not true that on every highway and byway of life, on mountain heights and woodland depths, in the secluded valley and on the open fields, a beacon is set up warning you to beware of the dangers that threaten your bark, the beacon of the cross of Christ? Every crucifix on which your eye falls speaks to you; it calls on you to avoid the path, on account of which the Redeemer had to tread the way of the cross, and if you do not heed the warning cry, woe betide you, it is your own fault if your end is perdition. Reflect upon this attentively, my soul. Daily, hourly, at every step you take, the sign of our redemption meets your sight, you behold the beacon-light cautioning you against sin, and yet how often you fall into sin! Meditate upon this deplorable fact to-day with a contrite heart; make resolutions of amendment, and whenever you pass by a crucifix, pray that you and all sinners may understand better and profit more fully by this beacon-light given you for your warning.
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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