The Feast of the Purification.
On the Light of Sanctifying Grace.
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 Light of Sanctifying Grace.
Contemplate the ceremonies of to-day’s festival, paying particular heed to the blessing of candles and the procession that follows. There is a peculiar mystery about light. When the triune God first drew aside the veil of obscurity that shrouded His mysterious, eternal existence, the first creative word He uttered was this: “Be light made.” And when the Second Person of the Holy Trinity revealed Himself to man in the incarnation, the plains of Bethlehem, wrapped in the darkness of night, were suddenly illumined by a brilliant light from Heaven. Again, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, God the Holy Ghost, appeared in the shining light of tongues of fire. Jesus Christ is called Light, the Light of the world, and the tapers which are solemnly blessed by the priest to-day are emblematic of Him. My soul, amongst all the tapers that are blessed to-day consider two pre-eminently: the taper that is held at baptism and that which is lighted in the hour of death.
1st. Consider first what the baptismal taper suggests to the Christian. This taper, which was lighted when you were made a child of God in the laver of regeneration, consists of virgin wax, the wax of bees, and is white in color and pure in substance. This fact will afford you abundant matter for meditation. The candle is white and undefiled, like the baptismal robe, of which the Priest when giving it to you says: “Receive this white garment and see that thou carry it without stain before the judgment-seat of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In order to do this you must also obey the admonition which the Priest adds when he gives the lighted candle to the person baptized (or his god parents): “Receive this burning light and keep thy baptism blameless,” that is to say, let your life be pure and blameless, pass your days in that virginal purity whereof this white taper is an emblem. The words of the Priest: “Receive this burning light,” also suggest food for thought. The taper was kindled at the lamp which burns constantly before the tabernacle; it is to be burnt in the service of God, and in burning it is consumed. In like manner, Christian, the light of faith, the flame of grace was kindled in your soul in holy baptism; it was kindled by Christ, the eternal Light, and thus consecrated as a spiritual taper in the temple of God you ought throughout your whole life to burn in the service of God and be completely consumed whilst burning with divine charity, as the flame consumes the taper; that is to say, all thought of self, all love of self must be banished from your heart. Meditate deeply on the beautiful symbolism of the baptismal candle. Ask yourself the serious question whether you stand in the temple of God as Mary did when she brought her oblation, a pure votive candle burning with a steady flame, or does the unruly fire of passion burn within your heart, a fire which with its fumes has already extinguished the soft light of grace kindled in holy baptism.
2d. Consider what the taper lighted at the Christian’s death-bed teaches us. Imagine that your last hour has come; realize as far as you can what your feelings will be in that terribly solemn moment when the thrill of horror which is the precursor of dissolution passes over your wasted frame. What are the thoughts which will crowd in upon your mind at the sight of the taper by your side? Your dying gaze will rest upon the feeble flame of that taper, you will remember that in the commencement of your life, at your baptism, a candle was burnt, the baptismal candle, and you will be reminded that then the light of faith, the light of sanctifying grace was kindled in your soul. Have you kept that flame alive, have you always walked by its light? Has Christ truly been the light of your life, and is He now likewise the light of your dying hour? While these thoughts pass through your soul, soon to wing her flight from earth, the voice of the Priest is heard reciting the prayer: “Go forth, O Christian soul, from this world, in the name of God, the Father Almighty, who created thee;” and perhaps as the words are spoken you will be forced to acknowledge, He did indeed create me, He is my Father, but I have not acted as His child. “Go forth,” the Priest continues, “in the name of the Son of the living God, who suffered for thee;” and you say to yourself, suffered, but suffered in vain for me, since alas! I have trodden under foot His precious blood. “Go forth, in the name of the Holy Ghost who consecrated thee for a holy temple,” so the Priest proceeds, and you meanwhile think in your heart, I have desecrated that temple shamefully by my sins. And if the transgressions of the past, those dark deeds committed by the light of the nocturnal lamp, rise up to memory and assume threatening proportions in the glimmer of the taper beside your bed, then that burning taper, instead of reminding you to your solace of Jesus who is your light, will rather recall the thought of the flames of hell, with their awful, ceaseless burning. If this be so, it will make it impossible for you to repeat with holy Simeon the words of the Gospel for this day: “Now dost Thou dismiss Thy servant, Lord, according to Thy word in peace, because my eyes have seen Thy salvation which Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples; a light to the revelation of the Gentiles and the glory of Thy people Israel.” (St. Luke ii. 29 seq.) Take heed therefore, my soul, to follow the precept which the baptismal candle is intended to teach us, and the taper lighted beside your death-bed will console you, and light you on your journey through the dark valley of death. Imitate during your life the bright example of virtue Mary gives you, brighter far than the light of all the tapers lighted on this day, and then in the hour of death you will rejoice in her protection, and the taper lighted at the hour of your departure will be no less pleasant a sight than that which was burnt at your baptism.
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)
O my God! O God infinitely good! how canst Thou bear with a sinner like me! – St. Ignatius of Loyola, Ribadeneira.
February Devotion: The Holy Trinity (also the Holy Family)
Virtue to practice: Humility
I vow and consecrate to God all that is in me: my memory and my actions to God the Father; my understanding and my words to God the Son; my will and my thoughts to God the Holy Ghost; my heart, my body, my tongue my senses and all my sorrows to the sacred Humanity of Jesus Christ, ‘who was contented to be betrayed into the hands of wicked men and to suffer the torment of the Cross.’ – St. Francis de Sales
An indulgence of 3 years.
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if this act of oblation is devoutly repeated every day for a monh (S.P.Ap., Sept. 22, 1922 and May 12, 1934).
The faithful who devoutly offer any prayers in honor of the Most Holy Trinity with the intention of continuing them for nine successive days, may gain:
An indulgence of 7 years once each day:
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions at the end of the novena (S.C. Ind., Aug. 8 1847; S.P. Ap., Mar. 18, 1932).
Novena in Honor of Our Lady of Lourdes
O ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of Mercy, Health of the Sick, Comforter of the Afflicted, thou knowest my wants, my troubles, my sufferings; deign to cast upon me a look of mercy. By appearing in the grotto of Lourdes thou wert pleased to make it a privileged sanctuary from where thou dost dispense thy favors, and already many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal. I come, therefore, with the most unbounded confidence, to implore thy maternal intercession. Obtain, O loving Mother, the granting of my requests. Through gratitude for thy favors, I will endeavor to imitate thy virtues, that I may one day share in thy glory. R. Amen.
V. O Mary, conceived without sin,
R. Pray for us who have recourse to thee.
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