The Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany.

On the Gospel for the Day.

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 Gospel for the Day.

To-day, my soul, betake yourself in spirit to the smiling banks of the lake of Genesareth, and there behold your Saviour sitting in a little boat, rocked by the blue waves that ruffle the surface of the lake, teaching the people, who have assembled in crowds upon the shore; just as if the azure sky above them was the roof of some vast cathedral, the sun the sanctuary lamp ever burning before the Blessed Sacrament, and Peter’s little bark the pulpit, whence Jesus delivers His grand discourse. Imagine that you actually see that divine Preacher, that you hear from His lips the parable of the grain of mustard-seed, which we read in to-day’s Gospel, and which St. Augustine asserts to be a figure of our Lord Himself. Then consider the following points:

1st. The growth of this divine grain of mustard-seed. Jesus, as St. Chrysologus says, the divine grain of mustard-seed, was sown in the tender soil of Mary’s virginal womb by the miraculous operation of the Holy Ghost. Oh how minute a grain did He become, the infinite, immeasurable God, when He enclosed Himself in the narrow compass of a human body, the form of an infant! But when once through the Nativity at Bethlehem this seed sprang up out of that sacred soil, how rapidly it grew and developed into a mighty tree, the tree of the holy cross, a tree living and flourishing for all time; in the holy sacrifice of the Mass spreading its branches far and wide in all lands throughout the whole earth, fraught with blessings for mankind. Look and be amazed; praise and magnify this glorious tree; give thanks to God for the fruit it bears, and that you may do so in a more heartfelt manner consider the following point:

2d. The nature of the fruit of the tree to which the mustard-seed grew. The peculiar properties of mustard seed are that when ground and eaten as a condiment, it warms the stomach, promotes digestion, strengthens the frame and makes the eyes water. Now the fruit which Christ, the heavenly mustard-tree, produces, that is, His divine grace, possesses these corresponding qualities in the supernatural order; it gives fervor to the cold heart of man, it destroys the sins which the soul in its sore delusion has drunk down like water, it draws tears of compunction from the eyes, it reanimates and invigorates the soul. Wherefore draw near frequently to the heavenly mustard-tree, pluck its fruits, pulverize them in holy meditation, and consume them in the holy sacrifice of the Mass or by devout reception of the Sacraments.

3d. Consider in conclusion the shade which this mighty tree casts. We read in to-day’s Gospel:  “The birds of the air come and dwell in the branches thereof” (St. Matt. xiii. 32), and doubtless the beasts of the field also found welcome shade beneath its spreading branches. So Jesus, the divine mustard-tree, stands amongst us, extending far and wide the branches of His grace, and not alone do the birds come – the just, that is, who are already winging their way to heaven, who are already soaring above the earth; the four-footed beasts also, unhappy sinners, find in the shadow of our Lord’s mercy and compassion a refuge from the heat of temptation, salvation from the fires of hell that threaten to consume them. Come this very day, my soul, come nigh to this tree of grace, rest in its branches, build your nest there, for nowhere can you find true repose but in the Sacred Heart of the Redeemer. Do not rise up from this meditation without having made a special resolution not to let a single day pass without sowing in the heart of one of your brethren or depositing in the general treasury of the Church the mustard-seed of a word of warning kindly spoken, a prayer, a work of penance, in grateful remembrance of the divine grain of mustard-seed. For one such seed, fertilized by the dew of heaven, the grace of God, a word spoken in season, a prayer, an act of mortification, may grow and become a tree that, when centuries have passed, will yet be a blessing to the Church by the fruit it bears and the shade it casts. What does not the Church owe to St. Augustine; and what made him a saint? These words uttered by a child: tolle et lege, take this and read it.

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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A Week for the Poor Souls:

Prayer for Sunday

O Lord, God Almighty, I beseech Thee by the Precious Blood which Thy Divine Son Jesus shed in the garden, deliver the souls in purgatory, and amongst them all especially that soul which is the most destitute of aid, and bring it to Thy glory, there to praise 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.

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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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