The Feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.
On the Final Judgment and the Separation of the Evil and the Good.
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 Final Judgment and the Separation of the Evil and the Good.
To-day direct your attention to that scene in the judgment which our Lord depicts in the following words: “When the Son of man shall come in His majesty and all the angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the seat of His majesty; and all nations shall be gathered together before Him.” (St. Matt. xxv. 31, 32.) Join these nations in spirit, and now in your meditation imagine that the hour has already come for you to be judged, and see that you profit by this consideration.
1st. What opposite feelings will overwhelm those who are assembled to be judged in that moment of which the apostle John speaks in the Apocalypse (ch. xx. 11, 12): “And I saw a great white throne and One sitting upon it from whose face the earth and Heaven fled away, and there was no place found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing in the presence of the throne, and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged by those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” How all the wicked will tremble at the sight of those books, for all their works are recorded in them, and how on the contrary all the good will rejoice, for all that they have done in secret for God will then be revealed. But the sight of the Judge will kindle the minds of the multitude yet more than the sight of the books, and how different will their emotions be! While the just will with indescribable delight gaze for the first time upon the countenance of their Saviour, beholding in Him the object of all their aspirations, of their labors, of their struggles upon earth, the reprobates would gladly go down straight into hell, if thereby they could avoid meeting the terrible eye of their Judge and their Redeemer. How sad this sounds: their Redeemer! Alas! Jesus, the joy of angels, Jesus, the consolation of the elect, Jesus, “the Goodness and Benignity of God,” now looks at the reprobates with a sinister glance, filling them with alarm in anticipation of the storm that will burst upon them. Woe betide you if on that last day you behold His gracious countenance flaming with wrath and indignation, for then there is no more hope for you. And if whilst meditating upon this subject you seem to see before you not His gracious but His angry countenance, hasten to reconcile yourself to God this very day by sincere penance and you will thus escape “the wrath to come.”
2d. Consider that all the angels and saints will come from Heaven to be present at this judgment, and all the devils and the damned in hell will be forced to appear there also. Then the great separation will begin, concerning which our Lord says: “All nations shall be gathered together before Him, and He shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats, and He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on His left.” (v. 32, 33.) Ponder well this momentous separation, O Christian! What will be the anguish, the shame of the Christian who has held the true faith, who has had access to the means of grace provided by the Church, and now all at once finds himself placed on the Lord’s left hand, relegated to the company of Jews and unbelievers, of demons and lost souls! What despair will seize upon you, O unhappy Priest, O miserable Religious! In your lifetime you wore the sacerdotal garb: your fellow men, your penitents, those who listened to your eloquent sermons believed in your sanctity, and now where do they see you? Among the goats! What terrible shame and disgrace! Yes, that will be a truly appalling separation when all the world will see children separated from their parents, husbands from their wives, sisters from their brothers, the king from his subjects, the master from his servant, the monk from his brethren in the cloister, separated too, not for time but for all eternity. During their lifetime they dwelt under the same roof, they sat at the same table, they knelt at the same altar; now one is on the right hand, the other on the left, and alas! never, never more will they be reunited.
3d. Consider the nature of the judgment. There will be no longer scrutiny, for everything is already known to the Eternal Judge, and not to Him alone but to all the world, for the life of each individual lies open before every man like the pages of an opened book. Weigh this well, O Christian. Imagine yourself to be standing in a spacious church filled by thousands of people. Suppose that the preacher suddenly in the midst of his discourse, were by divine inspiration to say: “Look at that woman yonder, who appears so modest and retiring, she is an adulteress; look at that man standing in such a devout attitude with clasped hands, he has a grievous sin on his conscience; see that youth, he is even now plotting how he can commit a disgraceful crime.” And were the preacher to continue thus disclosing to everyone his secret sins in such a manner that no man could gainsay his assertions, can you conceive the terror that would fill every heart, the hot blush of shame that would color every cheek, each one dreading lest his turn should come next, till at length the audience, transported with anger, would rush upon the preacher, determined to stop his mouth by fair means or foul? Now consider, no power will avail to silence the accuser who at the last day will disclose all our sins, revealing not to a congregation only but to all Heaven and earth every thought, every word, every deed of our past life. And according to that revelation sentence will be given, a sentence brief as the preceding investigation and equally momentous. It will simply be: Eternal life or eternal death. What feelings does the thought of this awaken within you, my soul? But what are feelings? Rather ask yourself: What must I do in order not finally to be put to confusion before all the world? Let those above all ask themselves this question, who are ashamed to confess their misdeeds in the tribunal of penance.
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 Wednesday
O Lord, God Almighty, I beseech Thee by the precious Blood which Thy Divine Son Jesus shed through the streets of Jerusalem, when He carried the cross upon His sacred shoulders, deliver the souls in purgatory and especially that soul which is richest in merits before Thee; that so, on that high throne of glory which awaits it, it may magnify Thee 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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