On the Marriage-Feast at Cana.
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 Marriage-Feast at Cana.
Picture to yourself, my soul, as forcibly as you can, the happiness of the bridal pair at Cana, in having such illustrious guests present at their marriage-feast as the only-begotten Son of God, His Virgin Mother, and the glorious apostles. And even if the givers of the feast were not at the time fully aware of the immense honors conferred upon them, they must have become conscious of it later on, to their great delight, when they witnessed the miracle the Lord wrought for their benefit; and every fresh wonder He performed in the course of His ministry, proving Himself to be very God, must have served to heighten their joy, for they could think within themselves: The incarnate God was present at our nuptials! Enter into the joy of the bride and bridegroom, my soul, and when the desire awakens within you to share in their rejoicing, meditate on the subject as follows:
1st. What does the presence of Christ at this banquet teach us? It teaches us it is not forbidden to the Christian to take part in earthly festivities and pleasures; on the contrary it is often an obligation laid upon him by the law of Christian charity, by the command of obedience. When the time comes round, certain hours in the day, certain seasons in the year, in which according to the rule of your house, of your Order, of your calling, the relaxation of pleasant conversation is permitted, and the members of the Community indulge in lawful amusements, do not make yourself peculiar; do not haughtily hold yourself aloof, as if you were more mortified, more abstemious than your Brethren and Sisters. Imitate the example of Jesus; make an act of renunciation, and say to yourself: If our Lord is present at our recreation, if at these festive times we rejoice only in Him and with Him, such earthly joy will prove no hindrance to us; it will rather be a means, as the marriage-feast at Cana was, of enjoying the spiritual felicity which the presence of our Lord imparts, a felicity which the bridal pair in question experienced.
2d. Consider what is to be learnt from the presence of Mary at this nuptial feast. She went to the marriage, although she was more than indifferent to the pleasures of earth, at the invitation of the bride and bridegroom, who probably cherished the hope that if His Virgin-Mother came, and by her presence gave a character of greater dignity and decorum to the feast, there would be more likelihood that her well-beloved Son would also accept their invitation. Hence, as St. Thomas of Aquin tells us, we may learn the best method of inducing Jesus to visit the dwelling-place of our heart and celebrate our espousals, our mystic union with Him. Only call upon the great Mother of God by your heartfelt devotion to come to you beforehand, entreat her to add her powerful word in support of your invitation, and before long you will share in the joy of the fortunate bridal pair of Cana.
3d. Consider what induced the apostles to go to the marriage-feast. They went in a spirit of obedience; they followed their Master whithersoever He went, whether it was to a nuptial banquet at Cana, or to a funeral procession at Naim. If therefore Jesus took part in this feast out of charity, the apostles out of obedience, and Mary, the immaculate Virgin, represented purity, learn from this, Christian, with what virtues your heart ought to be adorned if Jesus is to come to it as to a spiritual banqueting-hall. As in the apartment at Cana where the nuptial feast was held, we see united together the purity of our Lady, the obedience of the apostles, the charity of our Lord, so let your heart be beautified by the white lily of chastity, chastity of soul and body, to which you have pledged yourself by a solemn vow; see that you are adorned by the modest, humble violet of obedience, the obedience you have promised to observe; and let your chief ornament be the rose of fervent charity, charity towards God and your neighbor, which blossoms in higher perfection the more it is protected by the encircling thorns of holy poverty, planted in a heart thoroughly detached from the things of earth. Thus adorned, you may be assured that Jesus will grace with His presence the banqueting-hall you have prepared for the marriage-feast, for your mystic nuptials with Him. Yet, my soul, why should meditation on so pleasing a subject leave you sorrowful, why are you depressed and sad at heart? Is the remembrance of that day painful to you, when in gladness of soul you were affianced to your Lord, when those three fair flowers were fresh and fragrant? But now, alas! those blossoms are perhaps dry and withered. Should it be so, then water them to-day with tears of compunction, and they will bloom again with tints as bright and beauteous as ever.
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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