On the Baptism of Our Lord.
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 Baptism of Our Lord.
To-day, my soul, represent to yourself the pathetic, the touching scene when Jesus took leave forever of the house where He had lived for thirty years with His parents, whose joy and delight He had been; took leave of His blessed Mother, who clung to Him more closely, who loved Him more fondly than all the world beside. Contemplate awhile the holy Virgin as with tear-dimmed eyes she gazes long and wistfully after her beloved Son, whom she knows to be going to meet a certain, an agonizing death, and then in spirit follow your Redeemer on His way to the Jordan; observe how He mingles in the multitude who have come to John to be baptized, and consider what are the motives that induce Him to ask for baptism as they do.
1st. Jesus inaugurates His great work of redemption by an act of profound humility. With this intention He, the Lamb without spot, whose perfect purity surely exempts Him from any need of baptism, takes His stand amongst the sinners on the banks of the Jordan, beside dishonest publicans and uncouth soldiers, as if He were one of themselves. He comes to receive baptism from the hands of John, His precursor; thus the Teacher takes a subservient position to His disciple, the Master to His servant, God to a creature. my soul, admire this profound humility which was the first reason for Christ’s baptism, and learn from it that you cannot commence the work of your calling better, you cannot enter upon a new post in a more excellent manner, you cannot begin any undertaking of importance with greater hope of a blessing on your labors, than by an act of humility. It is the absence of such humility, it is the thoughts of pride which you have on the contrary entertained, it is the spirit of self-reliance which you have manifested on such occasions which have been the reason why so little blessing has at tended your work, your accomplishment of the duties of your office and calling.
2d. Consider that Jesus first did Himself what He intended to teach others to do. This was the second reason for His baptism. He was about to preach penance and announce the forgiveness of sins in the Sacrament of Baptism; therefore, for the purpose of giving force to His precept by His previous example, He mingles in the crowd of penitents on the banks of the Jordan, and goes through the ceremony of baptism. There was no necessity for Him to do this, yet it gave weight to His words when He exhorted others to be baptized for whom baptism was absolutely indispensable. Hence learn, my soul, this wise practice, which a saint once mentioned as his greatest consolation in the hour of death; he had never, he said, enjoined on others to do what he had not previously done himself. Not by your words alone, but pre-eminently by your example preach, admonish, warn, comfort, encourage others; and do not, like the Pharisees, lay upon other men burdens which you yourself do not so much as touch with one of your fingers.
3d. It was not for Himself that Jesus received baptism, but for us. He came to take our sins upon Himself, to do penance for them and atone for them; consequently He performs the first act of penance for them, standing in the waters of Jordan. This is the third reason for His baptism. He who is Himself sinless receives the token of forgiveness of sin in order to intercede for sinners. This fact contains a touching admonition for you, my soul. You have been cleansed in the Jordan of baptism, you have been delivered out of the stormy ocean of the world, and have run your bark into the safe harbors of the religious life, where you are comparatively sheltered from danger and from occasions of sin. You have no grievous burden on your conscience, yet you ought all the same to do penance, after the example of your sinless Saviour. Descend into the waters of mortification, sprinkle your members with the water of penance, moisten them with the tears of compunction on behalf of your unhappy fellow creatures, that you may have the right to entreat forgiveness of sins for them. Let not a single day pass without praying for sinners, without performing some act which may avail them. But see that you do this in a spirit of humility, remembering the beautiful words of St. Francis: “If God had given yonder criminal as many graces as He has bestowed on me, he would be a better man by far than I am.”
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 Thursday
O Lord, God Almighty, I beseech Thee by the precious Body and Blood of Thy Divine Son Jesus, which He gave with His own hand, upon the eve of His Passion, to His beloved Apostles, to be their meat. and drink, and which He left to His whole Church, to be a perpetual sacrifice and life-giving food of His faithful people: deliver the souls in purgatory, and especially that soul which was most devoted to this mystery of infinite love; that it ever may praise Thee by the same, with Thy Divine Son, and with the Holy Ghost in Thy eternal glory. 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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