On the Duty of Meditating Frequently upon Our Lord’s Passion.
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 Duty of Meditating Frequently upon Our Lord’s Passion.
To-day, my soul, on beginning your meditation, picture to yourself the Seraphic Father St. Francis with the stigmata of our blessed Lord’s Passion; imagine that you see him standing amid his spiritual sons, his heart glowing with charity, constantly repeating to them this one admonition: “I pray you, my Brothers, always keep before your eyes the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ;” this Passion was the daily, nay, the hourly meditation of the saint himself, the source whence he derived the fervor of his devotion, the ardor of his charity, the sanctity of his life. Now in order that you may the better obey this earnest injunction, consider for your meditation the gross ingratitude of those who do not think upon the sufferings of our Lord.
1st. Consider that the Passion of Christ delivered us from the power of the devil. Represent to yourself in vivid colors that terrible and mighty potentate, picture to yourself the horrors of hell, imagine that you hear the crackling of the torturing flames, that you see the gnawing worm that never dies, imagine yourself for one moment surrounded by the awful darkness which envelops the damned; and when you are fully impressed with these appalling torments, dwell upon this one thought: I was doomed to this terrible fate for all eternity; there was only one means whereby I could be, whereby I was, rescued from it, and that was the Passion of our Lord. Now would it not be the blackest ingratitude if you were never to think of His Passion? If a monarch grants a free pardon to a criminal who is condemned to a painful death, and during the remainder of his life that criminal never thinks again of the benefactor to whose grace and mercy he owes the prolongation of his days, does it not evince the greatest ingratitude on his part? Perhaps, my soul, you are this thankless culprit whom you so strongly censure; or are you in the habit of frequently meditating upon our Lord’s Passion?
2d. Consider that by Christ’s Passion we were made the children of God. Having through sin become the children of the devil, inheritors of hell, companions of the fallen angels, a sorrowful destiny stared us in the face, a destiny from which alas! none could rescue us but the One whom we had outraged and offended. And He came to deliver us, to deliver us by means of His bitter Passion. By this Passion we are made sons of God instead of children of the devil; from being culprits doomed to hell we become heirs of Heaven; from being subjects of Satan we are transformed into associates of the angels. O grasp this truth fully, my soul, in order that the thanklessness of those who seldom, if ever, meditate on our Lord’s Passion may be made clearly apparent to you! What would you say of a man whom a king had, out of pure charity, raised from the dust, adopted as his son, constituted heir to his kingdom, and who, after receiving these favors, never gave a thought to his generous benefactor? You would declare him to be a miserable ingrate. Take care that you are not pronouncing your own condemnation.
3d. Consider how intensely our Lord suffered during His Passion. Picture to yourself the Saviour at the time when He presented such a pitiful appearance that even Pilate felt compassion for Him, and could not refrain from exclaiming: “Ecce homo!” Behold the Man! Hear how this Victim of charity, streaming with blood, crowned with thorns, nailed to the cross, calls to you in the extremity of His woe: “All ye who go by the way, attend and see if there be any sorrow like to My sorrow. “ (Lam. i. 12.) Then consider that if Tobias exhorted his son ever to be mindful of the mother who had borne so much pain and sorrow for his sake, how much more right has the Church to enjoin upon us to think upon the sufferings of our Lord. It is related of St. Vincent of Paul that he caused a galley-slave to be set at liberty, by taking his place and submitting to have the chain riveted on him and bearing the terrible punishment as his substitute. Can it be supposed that a single day passed without the released prisoner remembering with gratitude that act of charity? And you, ingrate, for whose deliverance your God has endured, not the weight of fetters, but the death of the cross, do you think so seldom of His Passion? No, my soul, from henceforward let no Friday pass without meditating on our Saviour’s sufferings; from hence forward never hear Mass, never recite the sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary, never let your eyes rest on a cross, never even pass two cross-roads, without remembering, with gratitude and compunction of heart, and briefly meditating upon our Lord’s sacred Passion.
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 Friday
O Lord, God Almighty, I beseech Thee by the Precious Blood which Thy Divine Son Jesus shed on this day upon the wood of the cross, especially from His most sacred hands and feet, deliver the souls in purgatory, and especially that soul for whom I am most bound to pray, that it may not through my fault be deprived of eternal bliss, but may forthwith praise Thee in Thy glory 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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