Satisfaction for Past Sin (Continued).
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.
Satisfaction for Past Sin (Continued).
St. Ignatius contents not himself with our only having a lively sorrow in our hearts for our faults, or with our making a firm purpose not to relapse: for to ensure our thorough amendment, he desires that we add some corporal penance, and that we inflict it upon ourselves as often as we fall into the imperfection we wish to amend. This penance cannot but be a very great help, because the fear of chastisement makes us stand more upon our guard. Let a horse be ever so lazy, the spur will make him go forwards, and if he knows we have one, it is enough to make him go, though we never spur him with it.
Besides this advantage, and the merit that penance carries along with it, and the fact that it serves for satisfaction and expiation of our faults, it still contains another advantage, which is, that God is wont to hear the prayers and desires of those who mortify themselves, and afflict their bodies. And this is one of the effects which the saints attribute to exterior penance and mortification which St. Ignatius takes particular notice of in his book of Spiritual Exercises. “From the first day that thou didst set thy heart to understand, to afflict thyself in the sight of thy God, thy words have been heard” (Dan. x, 12). So that Daniel added fasting and other austerities to his prayer, whereby he obtained the liberty of his people, and merited that God should reveal to him several great mysteries, and bestow many signal graces and favours upon him. We see also that it is a means, always very much practised by the Church, for imploring God’s assistance in those public calamities she has suffered, and in all the wants and necessities of the faithful.
When we only offer up our desires and prayers to Him, He often does not grant us what we ask; or at least He defers it for a long time. But when we join penance, to prayer, when we mortify our flesh, and afflict ourselves before Him, then we more easily and more certainly obtain all that we desire or wish for. God loves the just very tenderly, and when He sees them torment and afflict their bodies to obtain anything of Him, He has compassion on them, and shows great mercy to them. If the Scripture says that Joseph, seeing the tears and affliction of his brethren, could not refrain any longer from discovering himself to them, what will God do to those whom He loves far more tenderly than Joseph loved his brethren? What will Jesus Christ our brother do, when He sees our mortification and the sorrow we suffer? It is, therefore, a means which cannot but be of great advantage and profit to us in every respect.
All this agrees very well with what Cassian says, when he describes the manner wherein we ought to behave ourselves in the spiritual war we make against the predominant passion: because the chief thing we aim at is the obtaining what we stand most in need of, and what is most necessary for us. Our examen is made, in order to extirpate that passion and bad inclination which chiefly domineers over us – which draws us after it with greater violence – which exposes us to greater dangers, and causes us to fall into the most grievous sins, and because hereby also we endeavour to overcome that vice whose defeat gives us an assurance of a victory over all the rest, and to gain that virtue the possession of which will help us to gain all others. What care, therefore, what precaution, and what application ought not we take in a thing that is of so great importance as this to us? “We ought to make it our chief endeavour, we ought to apply our whole study and attention to obtain it. We must offer up all our fasts, all the sighs and earnest desires of our hearts to accomplish this object” (Cassian Coll. V., Abb. Scrap., Cap. 14).
But it is not only in our Examination of Conscience that we are seriously to apply ourselves to this: we must do the same in our prayer; and not only in the ordinary time prescribed for prayer, but also very often throughout the whole day by elevating our hearts to God, saying with sighs and groans – Lord, give me humility: Lord, give me chastity: Lord, give me patience. We must also, for this end, often visit the Blessed Sacrament, begging with fervour of Jesus Christ the grace we stand most in need of, and have recourse also to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, and of the saints, in order to obtain it. Our fasts, disciplines, all our austerities, and all the particular devotions we practise, must tend to nothing else but to the attainment of this. And lastly, it being a business of so great importance to us, we must continually have it in our mind and in our thoughts. And if in this manner we take it to heart, we shall soon perceive the great profit we get by our examens; because God, beholding our afflictions, will hear our prayers, and grant the accomplishment of our desires. And this, moreover, deserves to be so much the more taken notice of, because we may hereby help ourselves upon all occasions, and in all temptations. St. Bonaventure relates that the Blessed Virgin appearing to St. Elizabeth of Hungary told her that God did not ordinarily grant any particular grace or favour to a soul, but by means of prayer and corporal mortifications (Rodriguez, Vol I, Seventh Treatise, Chap. IX).
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.
– by Rev. P. Ryan
– Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur October 10, 1910
I ardently desire, and I ask you by the love and respect we bear to our Divine Master, that in our spiritual exercises we would remember one another. – St. Ignatius of Loyola, Letter 14.
March Devotion: St. Joseph
Virtue to practice: Mortification
O St. Joseph whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires. O St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of fathers. O St. Joseph I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine Head for me, and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for me. Amen.
Prayer to St. Joseph by Pope St. Pius X
O Glorious St. Joseph, model of all those who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work conscientiously, putting the call of duty above my natural inclinations, to work with gratitude and joy, in a spirit of penance for the remission of my sins, considering it an honor to employ and develop by means of labor the gifts received from God, to work with order, peace, moderation, and patience, without ever shrinking from weariness and difficulties, to work above all with purity of intention and detachment from self, having always death before my eyes and the account that I must render of time lost, of talents wasted, of good omitted, of vain complacency in success, so fatal to the work of God. All for Jesus, all through Mary, all after thine example, O Patriarch, St. Joseph. Such shall be my watchword in life and in death. Amen.
Copyright © 2013 – 2014. Holy Cross Publications. All rights reserved.