On the Mystic Meaning of Our Lord’s First Miracle.
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 Mystic Meaning of Our Lord’s First Miracle.
To-day, my soul, you are invited to be present in spirit at the marriage in Cana; and first of all represent to yourself the embarrassment of the waiters and of the bridegroom, on perceiving that the supply of wine had run short, and then imagine their joy when they saw the six stone water-pots full of excellent wine. With what veneration, what astonishment, what thankfulness must they have regarded the guest who was endowed with this miraculous power! You, my soul, must not rest satisfied with gazing in wonder at the miracle, but proceed to meditate upon its mystic signification.
1st. Consider what the six water-pots are intended to signify. In accordance with the Jewish custom they were to serve for the purification of the guests, the cleansing prescribed by the law. And since you, my soul, ought to cleanse yourself from every stain of sin before celebrating, in Holy Communion, your spiritual nuptials with Christ, your heavenly Spouse, you should for this purpose make use of six stone water-pots filled with water, which, St. Antony of Padua teaches us are:Contrition, Confession, Prayer, Fasting, Almsdeeds, and sincere forgiveness of injuries and offences.
These six things are the means not merely of cleansing us from sin, they are also the means whereby our Lord is pleased to change the muddy water of sin in our soul into the sweet, clear wine of His grace. Wherefore ask yourself seriously, my soul, when and how you will in future make use of these six water-pots.
2d. Consider what is signified by the water which was changed into wine. St. Bernard gives us the answer to this; he asserts thatthe water symbolizes the fear of God, the wine the love of God.
The fear of God, the cold tasteless water, is to be converted within us into the vivifying wine of divine love. It is true that water quenches thirst but wine does more: it invigorates and exhilarates. If you only have the fear of God as the motive of your actions, if you serve Him out of fear alone, the fear of His judgments, the fear of hell-fire, you will not lose your soul, your thirst for eternal salvation will not be quenched, but you stand as yet on a very low degree of sanctity; your piety is nothing but cold water, not the choice, full-bodied, warmth-giving wine of charity. Pray God to give you this; entreat Him of His mercy to change your heart in this respect as of yore He changed the water in the stone pots at Cana.
3d. Consider what was the conduct of the disciples after this miracle took place. The Evangelist briefly describes it in these words: “His disciples believed in Him.” (St. John ii. 11.) Observe that this miracle sufficed to awaken their faith, and from the time of that first miracle they never forsook their Master; they followed Him faithfully and remained with Him until the end of His public ministry. Whereas you, my soul, who have already seen so many miracles, who have the whole course of His wondrous life on earth and the yet more wondrous work of redemption always before your sight, you who not once, but a hundred, nay a thousand times have been the recipient of His grace, have tasted the generous wine of His compassionate charity, you are yet so weak in Faith, you follow your Lord so grudgingly, and instead of staying with Him faithfully to the last, you not infrequently forsake Him. Bewail your past conduct, unite yourself more closely to Him, renew your vow to-day to be His true disciple, and make a special resolution, in thankful remembrance of our Lord’s first miracle, this very day, if possible, to produce out of charity a change in the condition of one of your fellow Christians: by your consolations to change his grief into joy, by your almsdeeds to change his destitution into sufficiency, by your instructions to change his ignorance into knowledge, and by your prayers to change the state of sin in which he is into a state of grace, in as far, that is, as you can effect this with the assistance of divine grace.
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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