Meditation for Wednesday: On Death.
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.
I. CONSIDER that this life must soon terminate. The sentence is already passed: thou must die. Death is certain, but the moment of it is uncertain: we know not when it will arrive. But, to how many casualties and accidents is human life constantly exposed? The bursting of an artery, a stroke of apoplexy, the sting of a venomous animal, an inundation, an earthquake, a thunderbolt, and numberless other causes, which we can neither foresee nor prevent, may deprive thee instantly of life. Death may surprise thee when thou least expectest it. How many have gone to bed at night in apparent good health, and in the morning have been found dead? And may not the same happen to thee? Numberless others, who have been visited by sudden death, never expected to die in that manner; and, if they were then found in mortal sin, what is now their fate, and what will it be through all eternity? But, at all events, it is certain that either the night will come, when thou wilt no more see the day, or the day will come, when thou wilt no more see the night. 1 shall come, says Jesus Christ, like a thief in the night, when I am the least expected. Thy good master warns thee of this before-hand, because he wishes thy salvation. O sinner! correspond, then, with this mercy, profit by this admonition, hold thyself always in readiness for death. When that moment comes, there will be no time for preparation. Consider well that thou must certainly die. The scene of this world must soon terminate for thee, though thou knowest not when. Who can tell, whether it will be within a year, within a month, within a week; or even whether thou wilt be alive tomorrow? O my Jesus! give me light, and pardon me.
II. Consider that, at the hour of thy death, thou wilt be extended on a bed, with thy relations and friends weeping over thee, a priest to assist thee, a lighted taper by thy side, within one step of the terrible passage into eternity. Thy head will be oppressed with pain, thy eyes will become dim, thy tongue parched with heat, thy blood cooling in thy veins, and thy heart in agony: thou wilt see the world passing from before thee. No sooner shall thy soul become separated from thy body, than thou wilt be stript of all things, and cast into the earth to rot. There thou wilt become the food of worms, which will gnaw and devour thy flesh, and, in a short time, nothing will remain of thy body but a few withered bones, and a little dust. Open a grave, and take a view of the state of that rich and avaricious man! of that vain woman! Ah! such is the termination of human life; such is the end of mortal man, and such will soon be thine. But penetrate with the eyes of faith into the other world, and see the condition in which thy soul will be placed. It will instantly be surrounded by the monsters of hell, representing before thee all the sins which thou hast committed from thy very childhood. At present, the devil hides from thee the malice of thy crimes; he persuades thee that there is little evil in this act of vanity, this indulgence, this resentment, this dangerous company: but in death he will display before thy eyes the enormity of thy sins, to make thee despair. Then thou wilt discover in the light of God himself, the evil which thou hast committed in offending his infinite goodness. Ah! hasten then, whilst time remains, to make reparation for what is past: at the hour of death it will be too late.
III. Consider that death is a moment, on which eternity depends. Take a view of a man who is on the point of expiring, and reflect that he is just going to enter into one or other of the two eternities; his fate is pending but for a moment: when that is expired, he is either saved or condemned for ever. O this last breath! O this moment, on which depends an eternity! an eternity either of torment or of glory; an eternity either always happy, or always miserable; an eternity either of all that is good, or of all that is evil; an eternity either of heaven, or of hell. If thou art then saved, thou wilt be secure from all evils, and at the summit of happiness and content; if thou art condemned, thou wilt live in punishment and despair as long as God shall be God, In death thou wilt understand the meaning of heaven, hell, sin, an offended God, the contempt of divine laws, sins concealed in confession, ill-gotten goods unrestored, injuries not pardoned. Unhappy me! will the dying man say: in a few moments, I must appear in the presence of God. What will my sentence be? Whither shall I go? to heaven or to hell? Shall 1 be happy with the saints, or burn with the damned? Shall I be a child of God or a slave of the devil? Alas! but a minute more and I shall know; and the destiny which I shall then receive, will last for all eternity. Then wilt thou detest a thousand times the day in which thou hadst the misfortune to sin. But it will be too late; thy sorrow will be fruitless, because it will proceed from the fear, and not from the love of God.
Ah! my God, from this hour I will turn to Thee: I will not delay my repentance until death. I now love thee, I embrace thee, and I wish to die in thy embraces. O Mary! my true mother, let me die under thy protection: help me at that critical and decisive moment.
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.
– from St. Alphonsus M. Liguori
with the Approbation of the Most Rev. S. Eccleston.
If we were to die now, what would become of us? What account could we give of all the favors and all the graces we have received, and of the many souls lost on our account? – St. Ignatius of Loyola, Letters.
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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