On Our Lord’s Departure to the Desert after His Baptism.
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 Departure to the Desert after His Baptism.
The great event of the baptism of Jesus is now over, and you will see, my soul, how He on whom such signal marks of divine favor have been lavished, hastens away from the scene where He has been glorified, and betakes Himself alone to the seclusion of the desert. Follow your Saviour in spirit as He thus departs to the desert; and meditate upon the reasons which induced Him thus to withdraw into solitude.
1st. Our Lord retires to the desert in order to escape from the praise of men. When the light of Heaven shone around Him as He stood in the Jordan, when the voice of the Eternal Father was heard to glorify His Son, there were many bystanders who witnessed His exaltation, and who undoubtedly regarded with the deepest respect one so singularly favored. Now that public veneration was precisely what our Lord desired to avoid, not because He had any reason to fear any vain thirst for honor in Himself, but for the sake of giving an example to His servants; for the sake of teaching them if at any time they were favored with extraordinary graces, if in any holy place they attracted attention and received marks of esteem from the multitude on account of their devotion, the success of their labors, their sermons, etc., not to stay in that place, not to delight in that aureola as children delight in the glow of a blazing fire, but with all humility to depart at once, and retire into solitude, leaving all the glory to Him to whom alone it is due. How often, my soul, have you failed in this respect, how often have you actually sought after the very thing from which you were bound to fly; fancying in your foolish vanity that every one ought to hear of it and extol you for it, if you have received special graces and your exertions have seemed to be peculiarly blessed!
2d. Observe that Jesus, after the external ceremony of His baptism is over, retired into the desert in order that the interior action of the grace conveyed in the outward rite might have its full effect upon His soul. Here again a useful lesson is to be found for the servants of God, that they should indeed not despise external rites and ceremonies, but esteem them at their true value, and above all guard against a tendency to rest on them too much as the basis of their devotion and the mainstay of their service of God. They ought rather to endeavor, while the external act is being performed, from time to time to fix their attention exclusively on the spiritual act, to awaken interior affections and dispositions; and moreover, previously to any such external act appertaining to divine worship, to spend some time in solitude in preparatory prayer, for the purpose of infusing life and vigor into the ceremony that is to follow, lest they deserve to hear the condemnatory words God addressed of yore to the people of Israel: “This people with their lips glorify Me, but their heart is far from Me.” (Is. xxix. 13.)
3d. Consider how Jesus, by withdrawing into the desert after His baptism, gives His servants an example of what their behavior should be after the reception of grace. They ought to retire into solitude. At the conclusion of every Mass, every sermon, every Confession, every Communion or any other act of worship, hasten with our Lord to the quiet seclusion of prayer. Shut the door behind you, and remain solitary and alone, holding sweet converse with your God. There think over the graces whereof you have been the recipient, there meditate upon the sermon you have heard or the good advice of your Confessor; there listen in silence to what our Lord, whom you have just received in Holy Communion, says to you; consider what means you must employ, what obstacles, you must remove, in order that the graces bestowed on you may bear their full measure of fruit. The brief quarter of an hour spent in quiet intercourse with your God after you have received His grace in public worship or external rites, is of the utmost importance. Here you see the reason why the reception of the sacraments, the holy Mass which you hear or celebrate daily, the forcible exhortations and admonitions which you receive have hitherto been of so little use, produced so little effect, because immediately after them you have gone straight away from them and immersed yourself in the distractions and business of daily life, instead of with drawing with Jesus into solitude.
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 Tuesday
Lord, God Almighty, I beseech Thee by the precious Blood which Thy Divine Son Jesus shed in His bitter crowning with thorns, deliver the souls in purgatory, and amongst them all especially that soul which would be the last to issue from those pains, that it tarry not so long a time before it comes to praise Thee in Thy glory and bless Thee for ever. 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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