Wednesday after the Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany.
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 Love We Owe to Jesus.
Immerse yourself to-day, my soul, in the blissful ocean of the love of Jesus, the love which He exhibited to you and to all mankind, not in His bitter Passion and death of these we will not speak at present but in His lowly life at Nazareth. Behold He, whose eye is accustomed to gaze upon the glory and splendor of Heaven, He who from all eternity has enjoyed celestial felicity and the fulness of joy, He whom cherubim and seraphim laud and magnify in their unceasing song, now dwells in the humble cottage at Nazareth, lonely and joyless, unknown and despised. And for how long does He dwell there? For the space of thirty years. O incomprehensible charity! To me this appears a more amazing miracle than the wonder Josue wrought, when he commanded the sun to stand still. During thirty years, Jesus, poor and contemned for your sake, seeks to obtain your love, and would you with hold it from Him? Reflect, unhappy sinner, on what it is that you are doing.
1st. Consider that you are guilty of the greatest folly. If a rich man were to solicit the love of a poor man; if one who is happy and fortunate were to strive to make himself loved by one who was unhappy and unfortunate; if a high-born noble were to endeavor to gain the affections of an outcast, would it not be consummate folly on the part of the poor man to thrust back the hand that would make him rich, sheer madness on the part of the miserable man to fly from the benevolent individual who desires to give him happiness, and utter stupidity on the part of the outcast to repel the advances of the nobleman who would raise him from the dust? Yet you are the poor man who is so foolish, you are the unhappy being who acts like a madman. You are the outcast who is an idiot, if you, man, do not return the love Jesus bears you, Jesus, who for thirty years labored to win your love, who is able and willing to make you rich, happy and great.
2d. Consider furthermore that you are guilty of the blackest ingratitude if you withhold your love from Jesus. How touching it is to read of the pious patriarch Jacob, who for fourteen long years labored in order to obtain the beautiful daughter of Laban as his bride; who, for the sake of winning Rachel, spent the best years of his life as a poor herdsman, exposed to burning heat and biting frost, enduring fatigue and hardships innumerable. What would the feelings of the patriarch have been if after giving such proof of his love he had met with no reciprocity of affection in Rachel? Such thanklessness would have been enough to change his ardent love into burning hate. Now Rachel was not guilty of such ingratitude, but you, my soul, are. Not for fourteen, but for thirty years Jesus has sought your love, for your sake He has endured infinitely more than Jacob did. He has borne hunger and thirst, cold and heat, labor and privations. He lived an exile, not like Jacob from an earthly home, but from His celestial country, and you remain cold, in different to such love! Strike your breast, ingrate that you are, feel if you have not a stone there in the place of a heart. But that is not all whereof you must accuse yourself.
3d. Consider that you are guilty of the grossest in fidelity if you do not love Jesus. You have never at any time belonged to yourself. Ponder this well: You were in the power of the devil, you had incurred the penalty of hell. Out of the power of the devil our Lord ransomed you at the price of His blood; your Saviour seeking you in His ardent charity purchased you for His own by thirty years labor as a carpenter. He won you at the cost of as much painful toil, He made you His own as legally as Jacob did Rachel. And what is more, you on your side have pledged yourself to return His love in all fidelity. First of all you were affianced to Him in baptism, on the day of your First Communion you went out to meet Him, your heavenly Bridegroom, and for the third time you were betrothed to Him solemnly and forever on your entrance into your Order, or when you received Holy Orders. And now do you not love Him? Woe betide you, faithless soul! You burn with guilty love for the world, for the things, the persons of earth, whereas in regard to your true Spouse you are cold and indifferent. Do you not hear the voice of the Lord, saying: “I am the Lord thy God, a jealous God” (Ex. xx. 5)? And supposing this jealous God should come, unexpectedly as a thief in the night, and find the flame of love in your lamp to have gone out why then, faithless soul, you will share forever the sad fate of the foolish virgins. No, my soul, this shall not be your lot. Do not rise from your meditation to-day without having lost yourself in the fathomless, boundless love of your celestial Bridegroom; without having, in the ardor of freshly enkindled charity, resolved to make a warm return of love so great, exclaiming with St. Augustine in accents of contrition: “Alas, why so late have I loved Thee, my God!”
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)
A Week for the Poor Souls:
Prayer for Wednesday
O Lord, God Almighty, I beseech Thee by the precious Blood which Thy Divine Son Jesus shed through the streets of Jerusalem, when He carried the cross upon His sacred shoulders, deliver the souls in purgatory and especially that soul which is richest in merits before Thee; that so, on that high throne of glory which awaits it, it may magnify Thee and bless Thee forever. Amen.
Our Father, and Hail Mary.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.
De Profundis for the Faithful Departed (Ps. 129)
Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord! Lord, hear my voice.
Let Thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.
If Thou, O Lord, shalt mark our iniquities: O Lord, who shall stand it?
For with Thee there is merciful forgiveness: and by reason of Thy law I have waited for Thee, O Lord.
My soul hath relied on His word: my soul hath hoped in the Lord.
From the morning watch even unto night, let Israel hope in the Lord.
Because with the Lord there is mercy: and with Him plenteous redemption.
And He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
V. Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord.
R. And let perpetual light shine upon them.
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