February 7th. On Vainglory, Anger, and Envy.
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 Vainglory, Anger, and Envy.
If we live in the Spirit, let us walk also in the Spirit. Let us not be made desirous of vainglory, provoking one another, envying one another (Galat. v. 25, 26).
I. Consider first, that as thy body in all its operations is moved by the soul, so also ought thy soul in turn to be moved by the Holy Spirit in all its operations, since, as the soul is the life of the body, so the Holy Spirit is the life of the soul. But if this be so, how is it that thy soul in its operations is under the guidance of quite another spirit, thy own self? It belongs to the Spirit of the Lord alone to regulate thy mind, since thy own self, or say rather thy own caprice, is a spirit changeful, inconstant, restless, insecure. “The heart fancieth as a woman in travail, except it be a vision sent forth from the Most High.” To the Spirit of the Lord it belongs likewise to set thy will in motion, not to thy own self, not to the natural affection which thou feelest for all thy own works, of whatever kind they be. Left to thyself, thou shalt be one of those of whom it is written, “They walk in the vanity of their mind.” Although thy natural affection may not be evil, it is at least vain and unprofitable, without foundation, and devoid of merit. Dost thou wish to advance in such a manner that all thy works, which are the footsteps of thy soul, may lead direct to Heaven? Give thyself up to the sole guidance and sole impulse of the Holy Spirit. “Thy good Spirit shall lead me into the right land.” The soul consists of intellect and will, the intellect and the will accordingly must advance by virtue of that which is their soul – the Spirit of God. “If we live in the Spirit, let us walk also in the Spirit.”
II. Consider secondly, that if thou art thus to be guided by the Holy Spirit alone, much more art thou bound to refrain from taking for thy guide some spirit directly opposite to the Spirit of God. And what spirits are these? They are these three vices, which more than all others are purely spiritual: vainglory, anger, envy. Hence, immediately after the Apostle has admonished us, “If we live in the Spirit, let us walk in the Spirit,” he adds, “Let us not be made desirous of vainglory, provoking one another, envying one another.” These are the three spirits that govern the greater part of mankind. Even persons accounted spiritual, not unfrequently are destitute of all spirituality except that contained in these three vices, which domineer over them. Seest thou not that some of them give alms, some of them apply to study, or work hard, or preach till the perspiration runs down their face, and it is all mere desire of applause. “They loved the glory of men more than the glory of God.” Thou seest them undergo the severest penance, but afterwards thou discoverest that they cannot endure the slightest disrespect; that they are quarrelsome, quick-tempered, determined to have their own way. Thou seest them zealous in promoting the worship of God, in the administration of the sacraments, and in other very meritorious works of teaching and piety. But afterwards thou findest them a prey to envy, so that they cannot endure that any one should be put on a level with them. Oh, how easily might one of these wicked spirits lurk concealed in the recesses of thy soul, and so at times not only direct and move it, but even lead it. This would indeed be a melancholy symptom; for if those “who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God,” what must he be who is led by spirits so different? One is said to be led when he who wishes to desire one thing is, as it were, compelled by some superior power to desire another. Thus it happens with some spiritual persons. They would wish to be humble, mortified, modest, and charitable, because they know that to be so is in conformity with their profession, but they are unable to be as they wish, “they are led.” It is of the utmost importance that these three accursed spirits should be deprived of their surpassing power.
III. Consider thirdly, how evil is the spirit of vainglory, properly called spirit, because it inflates the soul. It fills thee with vanity, because it makes thee yearn for those good things which have no substance, or truth, or profit. Therefore it is vain. First, it has no substance; for the glory which comes from men will quickly pass away, like the flower of the field. Secondly, it has no truth, because true glory consists in the good which is within thee, and which leads thee to perfection: “Our glory is this, the testimony of a good conscience.” It does not consist in the good opinion that men entertain of thee, though all should agree to give thee the first place. Such glory is a phantom, a foolish fancy, “an idol:” “But my people have changed their glory into an idol.” Thirdly, it has no profit, because it avails thee nothing towards the attainment of thy last end, which is the glory of Heaven. On the contrary, it lessens thy chance: “Thou hast received thy reward.” The words, however, are not, “Let us not have vainglory,” but, “Let us not be made desirous of vainglory;” for glory pursues him that flies from it. If, then, it be forced upon thee, it is enough for thee to set no value on it, to refuse to love it, or take pride in the thought that thou art all the more worthy of glory when it comes to thee unsought; for to entertain such a thought would be to begin to have the desire of glory. Say rather that not for its sake wilt thou either do or desist from doing one particle of good. To act in this way is to commit to God the care of thy glory: “But I seek not my own glory: there is One Who seeketh and judgeth.” It belongs to the Lord to judge when it is fitting for thee, and when not, to meet with approbation.
IV. Consider fourthly, how evil is the spirit of anger, properly called spirit, because it is by nature impetuous: “A spirit that is easily angered, who can bear?” It makes thee prone to quarrel, and is the cause that thou art continually offending and offended: “Thou destroyest thy soul in thy fury,” for it robs thee at one blow of three supreme blessings – peace of heart, peace with thy neighbour, peace with God. First, it robs thee of peace of heart, for thou art like the sea, which cannot threaten the ship with destruction until it is lashed into fury itself. For thus it has been written: “Therefore let no anger overcome thee to oppress any man.” Thou canst not conquer another unless anger first triumph over thyself. But is not peace of heart worth more than all thy empty triumphs, to gain which it has been forfeited? “Better is a dry morsel with joy, than a house full of victims with strife.” Secondly, anger robs thee of peace with thy neighbour, because thy wrath provokes others to wrath, and a state of warfare is the consequence: “He that provoketh wrath, bringeth forth strife.” It may even, for the sake of peace, be advisable to abstain from certain practices, however laudable they may be in themselves, putting aside, if needs be, fasting and discipline, and other meritorious works, which, without doubt, are all inferior to charity, since the Lord has willed that charity should even be preferred to the worship of Himself: “I desired mercy, and not sacrifice.” Thirdly, anger robs thee of peace with God, for whilst thou art thus anxious to defend thyself it is clear that thou dost not repose thy confidence in God: “Give place unto wrath.” The anger of God is the justice of God, which, beyond doubt, will protect thy rightful claims. But thou must give it time; for His anger is not like thine, precipitate, but ever calm: “Thou judgest with tranquillity.” When, therefore, thou dost violently forestall the wrath of God, all thou canst do is to provoke His wrath against thyself. Thus we see that the spirit of anger is a spirit that works much harm.
V. Consider fifthly, how evil is the spirit of envy, likewise properly called a spirit, because it parches, it dries up thy bones: “A sorrowful spirit drieth up the bones.” When thou hast come to the pitiful state of grieving at another’s success, as if it were a discredit to thyself, thou destroyest on the spot every virtue thou hast, for it is written: “Envy is the rottenness of bones.” Hast thou ever remarked a peculiarity of putrefaction? It is an evil born of good which is not its own. The flesh which is most delicate and dainty produces it most readily. For this reason envy receives the name of putrefaction, because it springs from the good of others; a putrefaction sad to see, not working ruin, not only causing pain, but hideous and loathsome. And is it not a shameful thing to grieve for that which ought to cause thee joy? If there be many who render glory to God, is it not so much the better? “Oh, that all the people might prophesy.” So answered Moses when it was told to him that his spirit had been transfused into many others. And thus also oughtest thou to say, reflecting that if anger rules at will the man who has lost his senses, envy makes a slave of him who has not yet attained the use of them. “Anger indeed killeth the foolish, and envy slayeth the little one.” Lose, then, no time. Putrefaction is an evil that grows unceasingly and rapidly. So it is necessary to apply a speedy remedy, and to apply it without flinching. This is no case for sparing the knife or the caustic. When thou art conscious of having yielded to some vile suggestion of envy, feeling it may be bitterness of soul at the praises bestowed on another, trying to turn them aside, or to deprive them of their force, inflict on thyself at once some signal chastisement, and thus destroy the putrefaction before it destroys thee, piercing even to thy bones. .
VI. Consider sixthly, that anger and envy are two poisonous plants which spring from thy deep-rooted love of human glory; for if thou didst despise it, thou wouldst not feel so deeply aggrieved that thou hast to stand in a lower place than others, which is the cause of those sudden outbursts of fury, or that others are placed above thee, which is the cause of thy pining away with envy. Therefore the Apostle, after having said, “Let us not be made desirous of vainglory,” immediately adds, as if to explain his words, “provoking one another, envying one another.” It behoves thee, therefore, to apply with all speed a remedy to the root of these evils. Trample under foot all human glory, not only with a feeling of aversion, but of positive horror, considering how destructive to all virtue is the love of it; and to this end place before thy eyes the image of thy crucified Lord: behold how, on that tree, He trampled on all human glory, how He made Himself the laughing-stock of His enemies, and allowed anger and envy to level all their darts against Him, in order that thou mayest conceive the greatest possible hatred of these two vices, since it was they who put the good Jesus to death – the anger of the priests, provoked by His preaching, and the envy of the Scribes, astonished by His miracles.
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 for every Day of the Year by Father Paul Segneri – 1892
He who does not love God with his whole heart, is loving something for itself, and not for God – St. Ignatius of Loyola, Letter 3.
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.
Copyright © 2013 – 2014. Holy Cross Publications. All rights reserved.