On the Third Temptation 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 Third Temptation of Our Lord.
Jesus is now standing upon a mountain, and what a beautiful panorama is unfolded to His view! Before Him lie outspread glorious forests rustling in the breeze, and below them green valleys with their springs and rivulets gleaming in the sunshine like streams of molten silver. The splendor of great cities. the beauty of tranquil villages, the sea in its grandeur and unfathomable depths, all these are displayed to view, whilst above Him is the blue vault of heaven flecked with silvery clouds, with its flaming sun and countless orbs and these, “all these,” Satan enticingly declares, “I will give Thee, if falling down Thou wilt adore me.” (St. Matt. iv. 9.)
1st. Consider the promise Satan makes. He promises the possession of the whole world to our Lord. O wily tempter! He has a presentiment that his uncontested sway over the earth is at an end, and he will be superseded by the Son of man. Hence he tempts Him, with the object of making Him accept this sovereignty from him, the devil, instead of from His heavenly Father. He desires to give Him the dominion of the world, without His purchasing it as the Eternal Father wills that He shall purchase it, by His cross and Passion, by hunger and nakedness, by the shedding of His precious blood; he offers to bestow it on the Saviour at a much cheaper price; it shall be His if He will merely do homage to him, to Satan, as the supreme owner of the world. Observe, my soul, the artful character of this temptation, aimed directly against God the Father and His eternal counsels. Consider this also: Satan was ready to yield up the sovereign authority over the world, which he had acquired at the cost of so much exertion, to surrender it immediately at least so he said if he could only succeed in causing Jesus to fall. Now you see, my soul, how highly Satan values you. To possess you is more to him than the possession of the whole world. How truly the devil himself unintentionally confirms the truth of our Lord’s words when He warns us rather to suffer the loss of the whole world than the loss of our soul! And you, my soul, will perhaps sell yourself to the devil not for the possession of the whole world, but of only a minute portion of it, for a drop from its chalice of enjoyment, for a small share of its treasures! What mad folly!
2d. Consider the untruthfulness of the tempter. He makes promises which he cannot keep and has no intention of keeping. He promises to give away the world, which has not belonged to him since our Lord’s birth, and which he would never give up unless under compulsion. He who is a liar from the beginning always acts thus. He promises honors, the favor of the great, to his followers, and instead of that they meet with contempt and disgrace. He promises them riches and leaves them in abject poverty. He dazzles them with the prospect of a life of luxury and pleasure, and almost before they have tasted its sweets, he dashes the cup from their lips and consigns them to eternal torments and damnation. And yet poor deluded mortals believe this liar more readily than the Eternal Truth. The proverb says, A liar is not believed even when he speaks the truth. Is it not then unaccountable perversity on your part, my soul, to continue to believe the devil, who has deceived you by his lies a hundred times, who in fact never speaks the truth, rather than your Guardian Angel, who has never deceived you?
3d. Consider how Jesus repels the temptation with the simple words: “Begone, Satan.” (St. Matt. iv. 18.) Even if the form of the tempter should be as radiant as the sun, his words sound as sweetly as the psalms of David, this one word, disclosing at once his name and what he is, Satan, the devil, is enough to make his temptations abhorrent to us in the extreme. Just reflect, my soul, upon all that the word devil comprises in itself; think of the vices, the scandals, the crimes, the vile deeds on earth whereof he is the author; represent to yourself all the misery, the appalling destitution, the revolting maladies, the corruption which awaits the body after death, all the manifold hideous moral and physical evils which have come upon the earth through the agency of the devil, and you will experience nothing but disgust and abhorrence in regard to this dark spirit and all his works. Once upon a time four theologians were discussing the best method of overcoming temptation. One said: “By the thought of death.” A second: “By representing to oneself the day of judgment.” A third suggested: “Meditation on the pains of hell.” And the fourth declared: “The means you propose are all excellent, but to me it appears that the most powerful weapon whereby to resist temptation is to think what an abominable, vile, malicious and contemptible creature the devil is who seeks to lead one astray and induce one to forsake, in order to please him, the God who is supremely beautiful and all-bountiful.” Avail yourself of this thought, my soul, and in future you will have less difficulty in overcoming temptation.
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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